Bullied Teen Amanda Todd Commits Suicide After Posting Heartbreaking Video (VIDEO)
A Canadian teen, who posted a heartbreaking video on YouTube last month chronicling the abuse she faced at the hands of bullies, committed suicide on Wednesday. Amanda Todd, who endured ruthless bullying for years, was 15 years old.
The video, which went relatively unnoticed until her suicide this week, says it all. In stark black and white, a faceless Amanda presents her gut-wrenching story on a series of cue cards.
Her ordeal began in the 7th grade, with a youthful mistake – a charming stranger convinced her to flash her breasts during a webcam chat. A year later, he contacted her again and threatened to circulate a screenshot of her topless, unless she “put on a show.”
And he did. Soon, nearly everyone she knew had seen the photo, and Amanda slipped into drugs, alcohol and severe depression.
Despite moving to escape her tarnished reputation, her tormentor soon found her. He made a Facebook page with her breasts as the profile picture. Soon, everyone had seen it and her reputation was ruined all over again. She was bullied at school. She began self-harming. Her family moved again.
Things were better for a while, and she reconnected with an old male friend. They began flirting – he never told her he had a girlfriend. She found out when he invited her to come over to his house while his girlfriend was away on vacation. She went anyway – something she calls a “huge mistake.” They hooked up.
A week later, the boy, his girlfriend and 15 others came to Amanda’s school and assaulted her in front of her schoolmates, who filmed the whole thing. Later, her dad found her lying in a ditch. That night, she attempted to kill herself.
The bullying didn’t stop. She moved again, this time to live with her mom. The bullies continued to taunt her over Facebook. They told her they wished she was dead.
They got their wish.
Here’s the video. Please be warned it contains a graphic image of Amanda’s arm, which she cut in self-harm.
As there always is in cases of bullying and suicide, there are people blaming Amanda for being too “weak” to handle the harassment and abuse she faced, and likening bullying to a rite of passage that nearly everyone must face on the path to being an adult. These people couldn’t be more wrong.
Many of us were bullied as young people, and it’s true that most people manage to pull through and even come out of that experience as better, stronger adults. That truth should be a beacon of hope for young people being bullied, not something used to beat down those who’ve already been beaten.
That truth doesn’t justify bullying or provide an excuse to the bullies and the bystanders. It doesn’t justify disseminating topless photos of a child to “everyone” in order to humiliate and alienate her. It doesn’t justify beating the hell out of a kid, filming it and leaving her lying in a ditch. It doesn’t justify abusing a 15-year-old girl to the point where she feels the only way she can retain some measure of control in her life is to drink bleach.
Yes, bullying is a fact of life, and kids have always called each other names and gotten into playground fights. That doesn’t mean we have to lie down and accept it. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be providing every measure of support possible to the victims and showing zero tolerance to the bullies.
Murder, for example, is also a fact of life, a facet of humanity as old as humanity itself. And yet we don’t (often) read about a murder case and say, “Jeez, what an idiot, going and getting himself murdered like that. Why didn’t he just defend himself?”
We don’t say, “Oh well, murderers will be murderers.”
For many of us (myself included), the teenage years are easily one of the most awful times in our lives. It can be a time of desperate loneliness, of total powerlessness, of instability and insecurity and great uncertainty. Now, take those emotions and pile them on top of mental illness, severe and relentless harassment, physical altercations and what seems to be a lack of discipline for the bullies (are pictures of a 7th grader’s breasts not child pornography?), and you have a life tragically – and preventably — cut short.
Teenagers often feel like they’re alone in the world, like no one cares – for Amanda, almost no one did.
Until she was dead, that is.
Where were they?
It’s difficult not to be moved by the massive outpouring of anguish and support across the Internet for Amanda and other victims of bullying. It’s also difficult not to feel angry that this anguish and support didn’t exist when she needed it most.
It’s easy to say, “This is so sad, bullying is such a terrible thing.” It’s easy to write a message of condolence on a Facebook page. It’s easy to use a #StopBullying hashtag. It’s easy to write a blog post about Amanda and to condemn those who weren’t there for her.
What’s not easy, and yet infinitely more valuable, is to do something about it.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Read about how to prevent bullying, think about how your actions affect others and stand up for those being bullied. It could make all the difference.
If you or someone you love is experiencing bullying or exhibiting signs of depression, or you’re concerned they may be at risk of suicide, please visit the following links. If you believe you or someone you know is at immediate risk of suicide, call 911.
Remember, there’s hope for everyone experiencing bullying and/or suicidal feelings – it does get better.