A commentary about the fallout of bullying, and suicide.
I've been feeling some kind of way for quite some time, after reading an article that was shared by Shawnee, Canadian First Nation's incredible singing talent. The article was about the tragedy of First Nation's Chantel Fox. She was only 12-years old when she took her life after being bullied through social media.(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/social-media-suicide-1.3963322)
When I saw the picture of her and her twin sister, my heart broke. But, when I read the hateful and abusive words of torment that had been sent to her--I cried.
No one, regardless of color or race should have to endure bullying. Be it from cyberbullies or face to face. In the past year or so, I have lost count of the stories I've read or seen about young children and teenagers committing suicide because they are literally, being bullied to death.
My heart goes out to the parents of Chantel and especially Chantel's surviving twin.
Chantel's death, along with other youths who have taken their own lives because of unchecked or possibly unknown bullying, was senseless.
Although I have been told more than once that sometimes the "bully" has been or is being bullied from someone else. I apologize, I''m just not there yet! What I mean by that is, I don't have any sympathy toward those who bully others.
Quite frankly, if a bully is being bullied from someone else, that should be all the more reason why that individual should not want to put someone else through what they themselves are going through, or have been through.
In fact, if a bully is being bullied, rather than inflict torment on others and/or repeat a vicious cycle --that individual should be protecting other individuals who are being bullied. Protecting and defending those who aren't able or are too scared to fight back for themselves.
I haven't forgotten what it felt like when I was bullied. I too was once bullied, but then my Mom taught me after finding out about the incidents, that I needed to stand up to my bullies and defend myself. Funny thing about that though, the teachers saw, observed and knew what was happening when I was being bullied and didn't intervene however, once I began to defend myself--my Mom was called down to the school, and then I was labeled "the violent one."
Nonetheless, my bullying stopped when I started fighting back. But I have not forgotten how I used to feel. The upset stomach and queezy feeling before going to school. My nerves would bother me so bad because I was scared to attend school and face my torment for the day. Just one thing though, how do you fight a cyberbully? More importantly, why do children being bullied not confide in their parents or someone close to them?
It could be they are embarrassed, or it may be that their relationship with their family is not close. It could be that they don't think their family will believe them. I don't know if any of those reasons touched home. It could simply be for reasons not mentioned here.
Whatever the reason, we now have cyber-bullying sweeping social media and internet. These venues make it so much easier for the often faceless perpetrator to spew their hatred as they hide behind a computer screen and a keyboard. `
Although these are not the most recent statistics, and we're almost four months into the year 2017 imagine what the increase of these statistics are now with respects to bullying:
"Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. Adult prevention — 4%. Peer intervention — 11%. No intervention — 85%" (nveee.org) That is a large percentage of individuals who do absolutely nothing. Part of that problem I suspect and/or I've heard said is that bullying "is just part of growing up," "it happens--you know how kids are," "it'll blow over, give it time." Sounds familiar?
Those particular mindsets are part of the problem. Granted bullying didn't just now start and has been around for a very long time. That does not make it okay. It also does not mean that we should sit back and do nothing. Children are taking their lives-- before they even really start to live.
Another tidbit from nveee.org states that, "suicide remains among the leading causes of death of children under 14." In addition, "1 MILLION children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on FACEBOOK during the past year."
By no means do I want to lessen the seriousness of suicide based on race. I feel for any parent or sibling who loses a child or brother or sister to suicide because of bullying, regardless of race.
However, in my opinion I do feel that the statistics of suicide among Black children and Native American children are understated.
As a child of mixed race, who battled with bipolar (which I didn't get a proper diagnosis for my condition at a young age until I became an adult), I attempted suicide on more than one occasion as a teen and an adult.
So here are some statistics from a Black and Native American perspective that I retrieved:
28 December 2015 BBC / Magazine Article: Saving Black Children from Suicide
stated that there had been "an increase in suicide among black children" and the magazine talked about Matthew Morris a young black male who attempted to take his life after being bullied. At 12-years of age, he and his family immigrated to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica. Matthew said he was "bullied about his accent" and "how he dressed" and "about not wearing the latest fashion of clothes". Matthew stated he was even bullied "for being smart." He would have succeeded with the knife he attempted to end his life with if it had not been for his mother. (bbc.com)
Updated 2:53 PM on May 19, 2015 An article by Carina Storrs, titled: Suicide Rates Among Young Black Boys on the Rise "have doubled in the last two decades, surpassing the rates among white children." (cnn.com)
The Huffington Post on Oct. 2, 2015 in an article by Anna Almendrala titled: Native American Youth Suicide Rates Are At Crisis Levels stated in part that "40 percent of those who die by suicide are between the ages of 15 and 24. And among young adults ages 18 to 24, Native Americans have higher rates of suicide than any other ethnicity, and higher than the general population." (huffingtonpost.com)
Here's just another heart shattering article I read in Indian Country Media Network. The article: Spate of Youth Suicides Shake Pine Ridge Reservation written by Alysa Landry dated Febrary 19, 2015 stated "Five suicides in the past two months have shaken the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation." It went on to state that they were "between the ages of 12 and 15." (indiancountrymedianetwork.com)
All of this is a definite wake up call. Prevention and intervention need to increase. There should be more serious/stringent laws to punish those who bully others.
Last but not least, I wrote this article, not to point fingers but to share my grief, frustration and anger and to make people aware of an increasing epidemic. Bullying is too heavy a burden for one child's shoulders to bear. Mental torment is sometimes even worse than physical.
If we are going to save yet another child from a horrific, premature end--the time to do something is now. The clock is ticking.