You can’t really exist in Internet land today and not have heard about Amanda Todd, the 15 year old girl that hung herself after being cyber bullied over the internet. Her story, started with a Man that harassed her into taking topless photos that he sent out over the internet. The trauma of the entire event sent the girl to another school to try to start over. In the video she posted on YouTube Amanda Todd spoke about being depressed, feeling alone, cutting herself, wanting to die, and trying to commit suicide. Several weeks after posting her video called “My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm,” Amanda Todd hung herself.
This story is tragic, and had Facebook existed when I was in High School, it could have been me.
I honestly don’t know how kids do it today, how they survive in a world of Social Media and Internet Communication.
I wasn’t very different from Amanda Todd at 15. We didn’t have cell phones and Facebook, we had beepers and CompuServe and Prodigy and 3200 Baud Modems.
I never had a lot of friends, I usually had one or two really close girlfriends that I hung out with and that would come over my house on the weekends and that was it. I was never really popular, I was chubby, I was being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which translated into something else for kids to pick on me for and tease me about. Being chubby was enough to make me stand out, get teased and get picked on. When I was one of the first girls in my class to get boobs and start my period I got picked on for that too. Then that weird skin phase where your face is a giant battlefield of pimples kicked in and it was something else for kids to tease me about. I got called names, I got beat up by the school bully, another chubby kid named Rusty that thought it was fun to hit me and kick me and take his frustrations with being picked on and bullied out on me.
My Family life wasn’t any better. I had a mother that was verbally, mentally and sometimes physically abusive. I struggled with the knowledge that I was adopted, and knowing that my biological mother was actually my Aunt, and still a major part of my life. Being adopted made me feel unwanted and abandoned. I’d been molested by my step Grandfather, a Man my entire Family already knew was a predator and had already hurt other girls in our Family. My Mother and I fought constantly and I hated everything about my life. By 15 I was doing drugs and had tried to kill myself several times.
YouTube, Facebook, none of those things existed or like Amanda I probably would have made some video reaching out and trying to get help, it’s not like I wasn’t desperately looking for it, I wanted out of the darkness so bad I just didn’t see the light. Instead, I wrote an article for my High School Newspaper called “My Battle with Depression.” The article was published in the Daily Breeze Newspaper on August 6, 1993 after a reporter for the paper contacted my Journalism Teacher asking if they could run the story. You’d have thought, after a story getting noticed like that some responsible adult might try and help me. They didn’t.
Like Amanda, my depression, being bullied and being picked on lead me to cutting and self-harm a defense mechanism that even today I have to be very cautious not to fall back on. For me, cutting and self-harm allowed me to feel something when all I felt was numbness, so when things get really bad, when I feel numb, that tickle is always there, that fleeting thought about how I could make myself feel something with a simple swipe of an exact-o knife. For me, cutting is no different than over eating or emotional binging, all things that I could very easily slip back into doing if I am not paying attention and monitoring my emotions.
I have no doubt, that had I been 15 in today’s world where Technology pretty much enables anyone to stalk you, follow you, harass you and bully you without being too noticed. According to the Examiner; “Authorities are attempting to gather information that could lead to charges in the death of Amanda Todd.” The Officer on the case Sergeant Peter Thiessen said, “We are looking at what transpired in regards to Amanda, what transpired on social media, what transpired face to face, who many have had contact with her in that regard, and whether there’s evidence to support any sort of criminal charge to any person or persons who may have had an impact in the type of decision Amanda made.”
Guess what. Too Little. Too Late, and someone should be asking WHY. Why did this girl have to change schools so many times? Why wasn’t anything being done about the bullying, stalking and harassment that were going on BEFORE it lead to a 15 year old girl tragically hanging herself? Why wasn’t something done to stop this obvious internet predator that was collecting topless photos of a 15 year old girl and posting them all over the internet? Someone explain to me why weeks after this girl posted a video of her cut arms telling the world her story and what happened to her nobody was paying attention and she managed to hang herself?
I cannot believe what this girl endured. To be perfectly honest, if it had happened to me, if I’d had people posting on my Facebook page wishing me dead, hoping I was more successful at my suicide attempts, and telling me how stupid I was and what a failure I was because I managed to screw up trying to commit suicide, I probably would have just gotten more determined to succeed, I probably would have done exactly what Amanda Todd did. Thank goodness there wasn’t any social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter back then or I might not be here today.
This girl’s tragic story has struck a chord in me. It’s touched a place inside me I didn’t know still hurt. It’s made me realize how vulnerable teenage girls are and how important it is that we help them. Since I decided to become a personal trainer and start working towards opening my own business to help others achieve their weight loss goals I’ve really only considered adults and Pre and Post op Bariatric surgery patients. But after reading this story, and realizing how other young girls are going through some of the very same things that I did at their age and how much harder it must be in today’s day in age with the internet and technology I’ve decided that I can’t just focus on adults. The truth is the emotional problems that we uncover during our weight loss journey usually are some of the very things that are bothering us at that age. I was just saying the other day that I resented that nobody taught me about obesity, exercise and the physical and emotional dangers of obesity as a child. I’m starting to think that I want to speak to teen girls about obesity, I’m starting to think that on top of becoming a trainer and helping others lose weight I also want to help make sure that teenage girls don’t end up being me in 20 years and fighting to get their lives back after eating their way to obesity as a coping mechanism or worse, like Amanda, giving up because “I have nobody. I need someone.” –
I’m sorry Amanda, had I seen your video a few weeks ago I would have tried to be that someone for you. But I will try to be that someone for someone else.
Related News Articles:
Amanda Todd Facebook Memorial Pages Overrun by Bullies
Amanda Todd: Bullied Canadian Teen Commits Suicide After Prolonged Battle Online and In School
Bullied Teen Leaves Behind Chilling YouTube Video