Amanda Todd. I’m sure you’ve heard her name in the news before, I’m sure you’ve read about her story, watched her video, maybe. The one she posted before she killed herself. I’m sure you have your thoughts and opinions about it. We all do. How could we not? In this day in age, everyone has opinions and nobody’s afraid of expressing them. This can be both good and bad. It can be good because we aren’t silenced, we all have equal rights to the freedom of speech. But this can be bad too…in a digital age, where everyone and everything is so accessible. With Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, Tumblr, the victims of bullies have absolutely no escape. They can’t just go home and escape their bullies, because their bullies follow them everywhere.
Amanda Todd wasn’t the first young teen to commit suicide over bullying, and she won’t be the last – as much as it pains me to say that. Do you know why I say that? Because people are so quick to judge one another, and harshly at that. Because teens are exposed to so much shit so young in life that they can’t comprehend any of it. I most definitely blame the media, and you should too. Kids are sexualized from a young age, they get treated like they’re older than they are. And they can’t handle it. I still can’t handle it. It’s unlikely that it will stop, too. How can it? Media is instilling these wrongful images in kids minds, that you need to be promiscuous to get acceptance, to be popular. I know what you’re thinking…but Amanda Todd did that, and it didn’t get her popularity…it got her bullied, and that’s true. But why did Amanda do those things at 15? Because she probably thought she’d get acceptance for doing them. Seriously, if you don’t believe me…watch the documentary called Sext Up Kids. Suddenly, everything makes perfect sense…why depression and anxiety is so high in kids so young, why they judge so harshly and behave so cruelly. Why they act like 25 year olds when they are just 15.
I remember being 15. I remember the complicated emotions, the hormones. I remember how it felt like I’d never get over something (a guy I like not liking me back, drama with friends, etc). I remember how hard it was. I also remember when adults would tell me to enjoy being a kid, to relax, it get’s better…I remember how I’d scoff at them. They don’t remember what it’s like. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I thought I had it all figured out…and when shit got too tough for me to handle by myself? I couldn’t even go to my parents, or any other adult, because I didn’t think they’d understand. I didn’t even understand.
Whenever I hear about another life lost to something so preventable, it breaks my heart. It shatters it into a million pieces. I ache, I bleed, I cry for these kids that I don’t know, that I will never know. I mourn for the kids of the future, for it will surely only get worse, won’t it? How do you fix society, when it’s been broken for so long?
You start with the kids, you start with teaching them empathy and understanding. You start with taking the judgement away. You take the justification of judgement and cruelty away, because there is no justification for cruelty.
I pity the bullies. I pity the people that target others and pick them apart, piece by piece, to make themselves feel better. To justify their actions, they say things like [in Amanda Todd’s case] “well she was a slut! She slept with someone’s boyfriend! She showed her boobs on the Internet!” and seeing those “justifications”? It just makes me sick. What’s with people pretending that they are so perfect that they’ve never done anything stupid? That they’ve never made a mistake?
I’ve read things like “How can you pity Amanda Todd?! So many people have it way worse than she ever did!” and reading that pisses me off because who gives anyone else the right to judge someone else’s pain? Who gives them the power to say who gets to suffer and who doesn’t? People are so complex, we all handle things entirely different from one another…and that’s okay.
Human beings are capable of empathy, of compassion, of understanding. We have the ability to help one another with kind words and uplifting smiles. Our behaviour towards someone can change the entire outcome of their life. Someone may be suffering in silence, from depression or something else, and the way we treat them makes a world of difference.
So, remember that. Even if you don’t necessarily like someone. It doesn’t matter why you don’t like them, be nice anyway. You never know what kind of impact your words and actions could have on someone.
As for Amanda Todd and every other victim of suicide; may you rest in peace. I hope that one day, suicide will no longer seem like an option for anyone. I hope that one day kindness will be the norm, not cruelty.