Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who posted a story to YouTube five weeks ago about being cyber-bullied, has come to the attention of social media networks and the mainstream media after she committed suicide.
First: let’s outline the simple factors for this article. Amanda publicly revealed the intricacy of bullying – well, I wouldn’t call it bullying, since a physical assault occurred and using the term assault certainly puts a spin on this story – and yet it took five weeks for people to come forward and defend her. By then, clearly, it was too late.
So…this changes nothing… for now.
Second: Social Darwinism
Despite the “simple” fact that there are no third-party suspicions about her death (she took her own life, by her own will; that is) coroner Barb McLintock said that the case will be long and complex. Investigators know how she died and understandably they will not release that information to the public.
What makes this case unlike the other pathetic “like this status if you’re against bullying” attempts, there was more than just cyber warfare and name-calling.
The details are sketchy and many will argue that “she brought it on herself” after she admittedly went online to meet and talk to new people. At one point, a stranger flattered her into flashing the camera. Yes, silly move. The predator vibe began…
About 14 months after this event, a man contacted her on Facebook and threatened to send around the picture of her topless. Due to Amanda’s actions more than a year before, she realised she had a stalker. The man evidently knew her address, school, friends, relatives, and the names of her family members.
I am not justifying her suicide or desire to let go, but her silly actions lead to consequences — which, at any age, is a dramatic lesson to learn.
An old friend and his girlfriend entered her life. The two, along with fifteen others (presumably strangers), confronted Miss Todd at an unspecified location. It is then alleged that the male friend’s girlfriend told her “look around nobody likes you”. Again – with details being unknown – the confrontation was in front of roughly 50 other students. Amanda Todd was thrown to the ground and struck several times while students filmed it.
After her father picked her up “from the ditch” and took her home, she reportedly consumed a bottle of bleach, and was taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment.
After a few days in hospital she went back home and to Facebook to discover that the incident had been mocked by several students from the school with such remarks as “she deserved it”, “did you wash the mud out of your hair?”, and “I hope she’s dead.”
Six months would follow – with Amanda moving to live with her mother in the city – and the students from the (now-former?) school were spreading images on Facebook of bleach, Clorox, and ditches with remarks “She should try a different bleach”, “I hope she dies this time and isn’t so stupid.”, and “I hope she sees this and kills herself”.
Amanda was 15 years of age and whilst the name will trend on Facebook and Twitter as well as the mainstream news websites for some days to come: remember that she is not the first and not the last minor to commit suicide.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a tragedy but what is more tragic is the cold fact that her suicide does not separate her story from that of any other bullied teenager. I’m sure the story will gain more speed over the next few days, and I know plenty of people will hit “like” and share the message; but don’t bother unless you REALLY want to make a difference and stand up against it.
So right now, I recommend that people don’t look past this case as anything other than a “famous suicide” – whilst you mourn someone you never knew, think about all of the suicidal people in the world who could be next (and most probably a little more forgotten) and know that the future of somebody’s hurt can be prevented. It’s too easy to say “oh, I wish I was there for him/her” when it’s far too late. Ask yourself: Would you REALLY be there for the person and finally, would you do whatever it takes to show somebody that there’s a purpose for all in this cruel, cold and unfair world?