bullying and suicideI’ve tried to make a concerted effort not to write posts that only garner attention but try to use relevant newsworthy items to share a perspective on how to address and end bullying. When the news hit about Amanda Todd’s death this past Friday, I initially did not want to blog about it. The cause of her death is still under investigation but it is suspected Amanda is yet another teenager who may have taken her life at the hands of bullies. To write about her death and YouTube video initially felt exploitative.

Amanda’s mother has been quoted stating she would like Amanda’s video to be viewed and used as an anti-bulling teaching tool. Please note that the video can be triggering for some viewers who struggle with self harming behavior and please view the video with caution.

Perhaps this could be the sole silver lining in this young woman’s life. After watching the video, imagining the hurt and sadness this young woman felt was heartbreaking.

How can this video be a teaching tool? We can use this tool to talk to our young people not only about basic internet safety (i.e. do not send pictures of yourself to strangers) but also discuss their sexual health and choices about early drug and alcohol use. It’s clear that Amanda had made some poor choices, freely admitting that in the video. We can help our young people not make some of those mistakes by engaging in discussions about emotional intimacy along with sexual health, why early drug and alcohol use is dangerous on top of what to do if you are with someone that has alcohol poisoning.

Lastly, the video can help our young people grow their capacity for empathy. Empathy, as I’ve mentioned in past posts, is the necessary tool in all of us to stop bullying. If we help our young people learn the skill to put themselves in other people’s shoes, perhaps we can help them respond to another person’s cry for help.

I hope Amanda has found some peace and want to give her family my deepest condolences.

Depressed girl photo available from Shutterstock