In October of 2006, just a few weeks before her 14th birthday, Megan Meier hanged herself. She had been talking to a boy named Josh, who she had met via MySpace, for about 5 weeks when he had suddenly began to send messages stating that he heard Megan was mean to her friends and didn’t want to be her friend anymore. Her mother became worried and told her to log off of the site, but Megan wouldn’t listen. After Megan had gone up to her room one night, her mother got a “God-awful feeling” and ran up to her room to find Megan dead. Megan’s mother founded the Megan Meier Foundation in 2007, a foundation which supports the end to all bullying and cyberbullying.
Megan is not the first or only teen to have committed suicide because of cyberbullying.
In a study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, victims of cyberbullying were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide rather than the teens who had not experienced cyberbullying. 20% of the respondents from the study reported that they had seriously thought about attempting suicide.
Though some people may not realize it, cyber bullying takes many more forms than sending threats or mean messages to a person’s email or cell phone. Spreading rumors online, posting threatening messages, changing your name online and pretending to be someone else to hurt people, and even sexting are all forms of cyber bullying. These can all lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts or suicide.
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Youth that are bullied often feel sadness or depression, as quoted in a story submitted to the Cyberbullying Research Center by a 13 year-old girl from California: “It feels like you could die inside”.
In a different story, another 13 year-old wrote “Well [I] always get bullied and [I] hate it [I] feel like killing myself sometimes”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a top leading cause of death in teenagers with approximately 4,400 deaths each year. With the increase of the use of media, the world today seeing more cyber bullying and suicides linked to them. Over 14% of high school students have thought about suicide, while 7% of students have attempted it.
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Amanda Todd was a 7th grader who fell victim to cyber bullying when she met someone in a chat room and exposed herself to him. The man kept contacting her and threatened to release the pictures online for all of her friends and family to see, since he knew her name, address, school, and who her family members were. He eventually posted the pictures online, where they went viral. People saw them and began to tease and bully Amanda, causing her to become depressed. Even after a year, in which Amanda had switched schools and made new friends, then man continued to stalk her. He created a Facebook page that used her topless photo as the profile picture. Once again she was ignored and bullied. In videos on her YouTube channel, she described how she lost all of her friends and cried every night. She eventually changed schools again, but got beat up after school one day by girls from her old school for flirting with a boy. She was left lying in a ditch where her father found her. When she got home she tried to commit suicide. After that she moved to a new city but was still being bullied and tormented.On October 10, 2012, Amanda had committed suicide and her body was found at her home.
Unfortunately, many teens have to go through cyber bullying each day and are threatened to the point where they feel the only way to escape their bullies is through death. Suicide brought on by cyber bullying is not uncommon either.
About 43% of teens have been bullied on social media. What makes that fact worse is that 70% of students see bullying happening online frequently, but 90% of teens admitted to ignoring it.
This bullying can’t just be ignored or left for the victim to suffer alone. If victims are too afraid to speak up there should be an accessible program where they can remain anonymous and still get help. There needs to be an end to cyber bullying –and soon. The amount of deaths due to cyber bullying is astronomical . No one should lose their lives over something so easily avoidable. Cyber bullying needs to be stopped, one possible alternative would be to ban individuals directing hurtful comments on social media.
Cyberbully can affect anyone, there is no mold that defines who will be a victim or bully. Our society as a whole has easily avoided the consequences of cyber bullying, as it is not as visually damaging or present as traditional bullying. Cyber bullying most often affects youth, which can be very damaging for the next generation. In order to take care of our next generation, the effects of cyber bullying must be more important to the leaders in our society. Instead of focusing on increasing positive aspects of our lives, we need to first decrease the negatives. Let’s take a stand against cyber bullying to ensure that our youth has a positive and safe future.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Featured image from Pixabay
Cover Photo: Pixabay