When I think back to the days when I was a middle school teacher in Brooklyn, NY, I can remember the bad times where I thought I would end up pulling out all of my hair. I also reminiscence about the good times and felt some of my students were like my own children and they treated me like I was their parent.
Despite how I was treated or felt about the students, I always tried my best to protect them whether it was braking up a fight or if they were getting bullied by others. Though it seemed I was successful at times, I am sure there were times I wasn’t. In my ten years of teaching, I cannot recall being in a situation where a student took their own life as a result of bullying.
In no way am I saying that there was no bullying going on in the school where I taught. Whatever the reasons were when I was teaching, students and staff did not have to contend with a child killing committing suicide as a result of bullying.
Today, it seems almost every week I see in the news a story where a child is bullied to the extent where the only option is suicide. A 15-year-old girl has lost her battle with bullying and took her own life. While so may feel her death is the end of her story, it is far from over.
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old teenager from Vancouver that was found dead Wednesday night in Coquitlam, Canada. The young teen chose to end her life as a result of being cyber-bullied. In an attempt to originally help others who have or currently are being bullied, the young teen made a video that describes the bullying that she had gone through. The whole video she would share her message on cue cards instead of talking.
From the moment you see the words “in 7th grade,” the viewer is being prepared to take an agonizing journey into the life of this troubled teenager who was treated in a way that no one should be treated.
The video continues, “I would go with friends on webcam [to] meet and talk to new people.” There was a point that she was flattered by a stranger into flashing the camera. Preying upon her innocence, she made a mistake that a year later would cost her dearly.
It was a year later when a man contacted her on Facebook and threatened her by saying he would send around the picture of her topless “if [she] don’t put on a show.” The threat was real as this individual knew everything about her such as names of her family members, her address, relatives, school, and her friends.
Eventually, a photo of her being naked had been sent “to everyone.” Her life, in her eyes, had been destroyed and eventually, she had to move. The damage, however, had been done to her psyche and she started to develop depression, anxiety and anxiety disorders followed by a path into alcohol and drugs; all mentioned in her video.
Amanda finally found a new school and new friends in an attempt to leave behind her former life and the bullying she went through. She had succeeded; that is, until the man created a Facebook profile used her uncensored picture as his profile picture. Amanda, of course, was devastated as she states in her video. “Cried every night, lost all my friends and respect people had for me… again… then nobody liked me,” she wrote in the video. “Cried every night, lost all my friends and respect people had for me… again… then nobody liked me.”
The bullying had renewed and she began cutting herself to deal with what was going on in her life. She had to move to another school and when she got involved with an old guy friend, the so-called ‘’friend” used her and she realized the mistake she had made.
Unfortunately, it snow balled into something worse, as his girlfriend, along with a posse of 15 others, confronted her at Amanda’s school. The girlfriend started shouting at Amanda and when some guy yelled, “Just punch her already,” the girlfriend did just that and more.
Amanda was attacked and beaten as no one stepped in to help her. She mentions how she felt afterwards in her video. “I felt like a joke in this world I thought nobody deserves this,” the next card reads. “Teachers ran over but I just went and layed in a ditch and my dad found me.” When she arrived at home, Amanda had reached her limit and drank bleach in an attempt to end her life. She was rushed to the hospital in time to get the chemicals out of her system.
Six months has gone by and Amanda is in a new city and school as she has moved in with her mother. Sadly, she cannot escape her past as she states in her video. “6 months has gone by … people are pasting pics of bleach, clorex (sic) and ditches … Everyday I think why am I still here.”
Her struggles continued as her cutting and anxiety had worsen and even though she was on antidepressants and receiving counseling, she had to be rushed to the hospital again due to an overdose. Yet, despite everything she had and was going through during the time she made her video on YouTube, she still tried to find some positive in her life by trying to help others in need of help.
The description of her YouTube video reads the following: “I am struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although I’m sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyone’s future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I?”
Sadly, she lost her battle and was found dead in her home and took her own life, according to the police in the Vancouver-area city of Coquitlam. I had said in the beginning of this article that though her life has ended, her story will continue.
Her tragedy has fueled discussion Friday regarding cyber-bullying and what people can do to put an end to this problem as well as what support can be given to victims.
One suggestion I will make is to remember everyday Amanda Todd’s story so that if everyone does their part, we can put an end to the Amanda Todd’s of the world and help support those in need.
Amanda Todd YouTube Video
Amanda Todd Death: November 27, 1996- October 10, 2012
I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although im sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I ?