Could I have prevented Amanda Todd’s death?

My brand new mummy heart could only watch this video once, and even then, it was hard to get through. Chances are you have seen this video, and know the story behind it. In the video, 15 year old Amanda Todd tells her story of being bullied. She committed suicide on Wednesday.

Amanda’s story has made a lot of people question themselves and society since her video went viral after her death. What would we have done, had we known her? What could her school, her parents, her friends have done? What should we do differently now?

I find myself thinking about those who actually knew Amanda. Those who bullied her, I imagine, have split into two groups. The first group, far too proud to admit their fault, will continue to say awful things about her, may even declare they’re happy she died. The second group, far too afraid to admit their fault, will mourn her death as if they were her friends. Very few will face up to their part in her death. It may not be until far into adulthood that they will start to look at how they caused Amanda’s death, and even then, I imagine some never will. As humans, we don’t like to admit that we have been wrong. We fight so hard to keep our sins in the dark, where no one will ever know about them, that we fool even ourselves into thinking we have done nothing wrong.

My heart breaks to read the comments on articles about Amanda that blame her parents. I hope I never find myself in the position Amanda’s parents are in right now. Before I fell pregnant, I could think of many things that would be more awful then losing your child to suicide. Now, I can think of nothing. We all make mistakes, but these poor parents have people all over the world pointing out how their mistakes caused their daughter’s death. Having your child turn into a responsible adult must be a sigh of relief  for parents. The teenage years, as I remember them, are a confusing, scary time, and I imagine the same would be said about being the parent of a teenager. Suicidal 15 year old don’t want to talk to their parents. They think their parents don’t understand. I think Amanda’s parents did their best, but her perception was clouded by depression and despair.

In the video, Amanda says she has no one. I’ve seen people point that out, to say that her parents obviously weren’t there for her. I think they were, as much as they knew how to be. I think she probably even had friends, too. I think this because I remember being 15 so well. I remember feeling alone, and like no one cared. I look back now, as an adult, and there was no question of the love my family and friends had for me. I also remember having friends tell me that no one cares about them, that they have no one, and I remember being so hurt because I cared so deeply for those friends, and they just didn’t see it. No matter what I, or anyone else, did or said, they were convinced they had no one.

I entitled this post “Could I have prevented Amanda Todd’s death?” not because I actually knew her, but because I knew so many like her. Girls and boys who were bullied mercilessly for whatever reason, and who must be watching Amanda’s video and reading her story, and saying “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” In her death, Amanda has become so much bigger then herself. She represents all bullied teenagers. No, I couldn’t have prevented Amanda’s death, but whose death could I have caused by my actions or my inaction?  Amanda’s video actually reminds me of something one of my friends went through when we were teenagers. She had had an extremely messy break up (to say the least), and the guy’s new girlfriend (I think? Maybe she just liked him) decided to hate her for that. We had all been in the same general group of friends, and this girl managed to portray herself as the victim in the situation. She would say awful things to and about my friend, and convinced several other people to do the same. I find myself today wondering if my friend had known that we were all there for her. If she had seen the times we stood up for her. Or if she had felt alone. I also wonder about those who stayed in the middle, still liking my friend but trying to keep the other girl happy, and I wonder if, had my friend’s story ended the way Amanda’s did, they would have felt regret. Even just as a friend, I felt betrayed that so many of my friends had allowed themselves to be influenced by the other girl, and allowed her to say and do the things she said and did. My friend felt that betrayal a hundred times more.

I hope that Amanda’s life and death will make young people think about how they treat those around them. Not just superficially share the video and talk about how much they hate bullying. I hope that they would genuinely consider their actions, and how what they do and say may push someone to suicide. There is something we all could have done differently. Maybe not specifically for Amanda, but we have all been in situations where we haven’t acted, or have acted wrongly, that could have turned out like this.

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7 thoughts on “Could I have prevented Amanda Todd’s death?

  1. I haven’t seen the video, but I did read about it. Very sad. It’s true; I have been in situations where I failed to act and the guilt was always much worse than any perceived danger. I’ve resolved never to let that happen again; I hope those who stood idly by in Amanda’s life have at least learned this lesson as well.

  2. It is unfortunate that such cases occur. Parents should take action. My partner and I have installed a free software sassreport, through which we see our daughter’s activity on social networks and so we can prevent and detect any type of cyberbullying. I leave the link where I found http://www.sassreport.com

    • Thanks for your comment, and especially thank you for sharing the software you use. You raise a good point that parents need to be proactive. Our culture is changing at such a rapid rate, that often the biggest thing to be aware of as a parent changes drastically between when one child is a certain age and when the next child is that age. When my sister was 12, we didn’t even have the internet. When I was 12, only five years later, I spent multiple hours a day chatting with friends and strangers on MSN. A recent conversation with a teenage student reminded me that the internet is changing just as fast now, if not faster. Even those of us who navigated the world of the internet ourselves as children and teenagers can’t assume we know what our children are dealing with when it comes to the internet. It is quite scary to think about.

  3. Pingback: One big regret. | hail to thee blithe spirit

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I had heard about this story, but hadn’t seen the video, so I watched. Breaks my heart. I teach high school, so it is a good reminder of the things that my students might be going through.

  5. Pingback: Top 12 of 2012 | Mourning. Heaven. And you

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