The headline has become an all too common one; “Teen Dies by Suicide After Being Bullied”.
The first thought that hits my brain is wondering if he/she had any friends, anyone willing to step in when the bullying would start and say “Enough!” Were there people who told them they did not need to be defined by what others said? If someone stands idly by, even if silent, while another is being bullied, is just as guilty as the ones speaking.
We are missing something in our culture and it is being fueled by social media, online gaming, lack of conscience and lack of human decency. There is an entire generation growing up of desensitized human beings, incapable or unwilling to show compassion, caring or defense of others.
Every time someone bullies another and that person ends up taking their life, the bully must live with their actions forever. I’m not exactly sure how we’ve arrived at this place in our culture. Perhaps it is the impersonal nature of social media, the faceless opponent in an online gaming match, the lack of meaningful connection. Whatever the cause, the inability to care about another person, even if you don’t like them is eroding the relational foundation of our society.
I want you to think about the depths of hopelessness and unlove felt which causes a young person with an entire lifetime ahead of them, to decide that death is a better option. All because others felt it their mission in life to sow verbal abuse, sometimes physical abuse and mental anguish on another person, a fellow classmate.
It is a scenario being played out hundreds of times a day in schools around the country. Every day a teen goes home thinking they are garbage and those thoughts are fed throughout the evening by social media bombardment. There is no escape. This epidemic needs and must stop now!!
What can you do to stop bullying and help prevent suicide?
If you are being bullied:
1. Tell a parent or some other trusted adult and let them handle the school administration.
2. Confide in one or two close friends about what is happening.
3. If you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please, please, reach out and if that person doesn’t take you seriously, find someone who will. Keep in mind these bullies won’t be in your life forever. They are temporary. Suicide is permanent. If you’re feeling suicidal right now, please call for help!
- In the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- In the UK, call 08457 90 90 90.
- In Australia, call 13 11 14.
- Or visit IASP to find a helpline in your country.
4. If possible, avoid the bullies. Don’t be friends with them on Facebook, Instagram or any social media. Limiting their access to you gives them less opportunities.
5. If you have a faith base, pray for them when they attack. It will help you to focus on something other than their words or actions.
If you know someone being bullied:
1. Confide in a trusted adult, even if the person being bullied tells you not to say anything. Their mental well-being is the most important thing.
2. Be a friend and be a defender! Don’t sit by and watch others being mistreated. Think about how you would feel if it were you and act accordingly. When someone is the target of bullying, you are either contributing to or intervening.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the person if they have thoughts of suicide. It is a myth that talking about suicide will make someone suicidal.
4. Pay attention on your social media platforms for comments and behavior that is harmful to others.
5. Form a group in your school whose mission is to watch out for bullies. If students are aware they are being monitored by their peers, they will be less likely to bully.
Treating someone as you wish to be treated or better than you wish to be treated, guarantees that bullying will no longer be accepted.
Remember, every life has value! Be the person you would be proud to call a friend. Your part of the world and the society around you will be better.
Work together with your peers to stop the headlines!
An observance I’ve made in my life is those who bully do so because THEY need to feel better about themselves. There is a jealousy of the one to whom they throw rancorous words. Jealousy that their target is comfortable in their own skin while the bully fights to like what they see in the mirror. Jealousy that good grades comes easily while the bully struggles for the A or even a B. Those who bully may clean up great on the outside, but inside, their heart is mud covered. It’s the message I wish could be conveyed to everyone who faces bullies.
About the Author: Paula Miles is a Member of the Irise Leadership Institute and a graduate of Clarion University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. She is a leader in multiple education and religious sectors. Having spent years cultivating her skills and relationships through family, friends and Christian faith; iRise Leadership Institute allows her to apply her connections and many difficult life experiences to help eradicate suicide. Most recently, Paula was a contributing author to the anthology, Unsung Heroes; Deconstructing Suicide Through Stories of Triumph, published in December, 2016. Learn more about the Irise Leadership Institute.