My 12-year-old cousin shared this video with her mom, who then shared it with me. It is a video made by Amanda Todd, who starting at age 13, suffered constant social torment because of unfortunate online activity and an older man who took advantage of her. She made this video to tell her story of cyberbullying and resulting mental illness and suicide attempts, in the hope it might inspire others or find her a friend. The last line of the Youtube description reads, “I’m still here aren’t I?” Approximately a month later, she committed suicide at 15 years old.
A warning: past 8:40 Amanda shows a very explicit picture of some of the self-mutilation she inflicted upon her arm, and it’s very disturbing. But until then, it’s just Amanda, telling her story in her own words.
I can’t depict any of Amanda’s story better than she can. But I would encourage you to consider watching it with your teen. This story relates to many issues we have posted about, including online safety, depression, sexting, bullying, cutting, and social networking.
Talk to your teen about Amanda’s struggle, at what points either she or the other people involved could have set things on a different path. Towards the end of the video she states, “I have nobody. I need someone.” Ask your teen who their “someone” would be. It doesn’t have to be a parent, but somebody they could trust if they ever found themselves in such a terrible situation.
Avoid glorifying Amanda’s suicide. She is more well-known than most teens right now, but she is also dead. She will never make another video, tell her story to anyone, be there for someone hurting as badly as she is. Make sure you’re clear with your teen that Amanda’s suicide was not the right answer. She was very depressed, anxious, and under a huge emotional toll when she did it, but you want your teen to know that suicide is never a solution to problems in life.
I once heard a doctor discuss telling a patient, “If you did that [committed suicide], your parents would cry every day for the rest of their life. Not for a while, not for a few years, every day for the rest of their entire life. They would never stop crying.” My heart goes out to Amanda’s family and loved ones.