“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Lately I’ve been seeing news articles, social media posts and hearing word from the streets about today’s topic – even in my lil corner of the world. So I thought I’d write about another issue that plagues our society. Suicide caused by bullying.
Remember the old sayings, “I’m rubber and you’re glue, anything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you” and, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I vividly remember my parents telling me to say these words to my bullies. The one and only time I did say one of those rhymes, I was teased even more. So I never said them again.
Our parents weren’t trying to hurt us back then when they told us these rhymes. They were trying to empower us, perhaps to use them like an invisible shield. We could even say the words to ourselves so that those mean words would go in one ear and out the other. But, if you’re like me, they didn’t empower or protect you.
Words hurt no matter what age we are when we hear them. Quite often words hurt worse than a punch in the nose. Instead of going in one ear and out the other, those mean words replay in our head over and over and over and over and…until something happens and we begin to believe them. Then, just when we think we’ve healed, something triggers those emotional wounds to reopen only to stab us in the heart when we least expect it. Yes, words can be devastatingly cruel. They target our self esteem and prey on our worst insecurities.
There is a common theme among humans. The feelings, or for some of us, the lack of, self worth and self acceptance. Quite often we feel worthless and “less than”. Some people are able to use those feelings to empower themselves to be successful. Unfortunately, there are some people who continuously beat themselves up by repeating to themselves stuff like, “I’m useless, worthless, and less than…”.
There are still others, however, who lash out at other people around them. These people become bullies. There’s one thing I’ll bet you’d be surprised to know about bullies. Most bullies were once bullied by someone else. Yes, it’s true that some people who have been bullied turn around and get angry and lash out at others, usually the weakest among them. I am by no means saying that this excuses the bully’s behavior. I say this to give a better understanding of what goes thru their mind.
Bullying has changed significantly since I was young. When I was growing up, you’d see the bullies at or walking to/from the bus stop, at or walking to/from school and even in the hallway or the bathroom. They would step up to you and trip you, call you names or make you give up your lunch money. The ones who were victims usually kept their head down and carried on. Some of us told a parent or teacher who then addressed the situation. And of course this lead to the bully to be even more mean.
Bully related suicides were not unheard of then, but since that time more and more teenagers and young adults have attempted it and some have succeeded. Today kids have access to computers, smartphones and social media – all of which have played a part. Research shows that the rate of suicide among teenagers has grown more than 50 percent in the past 30 years. Here are just a few more facts about adolescent suicide due to bullying
- 4,500 kids commit suicide each year
- 20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.
- Suicide is the No. 3 killer of teens in the US. (Car accidents #1, Homicide #2)
- The average teen sends 60 texts per day – reducing face-to-face communication skills
- Teen texting rate is DOUBLE the adult texting rate
- Girls 14-17 text more – 100 per day
- 42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year
- Of the 69% of teens that own their own computer or smart phone, 80% are active on social media
- 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13 years old
- 3 million kids per month are absent from school due to bullying
- 81% of teens say bullying online is easier to get away with
Notice #7 thru #11. Can you see the correlation between teenagers, social media and bullies? #4 and #11 also say a lot. It’s easier for me to call you names and talk “stuff” to you from behind my electronic device. When the “face-to-face communication skills” are reduced, “bullying online is easier to get away with”. Many, and I mean MANY, teenagers, and adults, post everything that they feel or are going thru on social media. This leaves them wide open to be attacked.
Now that I’ve mentioned how people become bullies, why people fall victim to bullies and a few statics, let’s talk about stuff that you, the victim, need to know. First and foremost, I know you think no one loves you, cares whether you live or die, or would miss you if you were gone. I have felt like that too. I’m here to tell you that you are very wrong. There is always, I mean ALWAYS, at least one person who thinks about you. Someone who cares about you. Someone who would miss you. If you don’t believe me, let me tell you about a young lady in my lil corner of the world.
While on social media one day, I stumbled on a post about a young lady who committed suicide after she had been bullied by a school mate. I don’t know why, but I decided to read some of the comments. What I saw brought tears to my eyes. This young lady had comment after comment expressing sadness, anger and guilt from people of all ages. Friends and relatives all left comments about memories that had and memories they won’t get to make. It broke my heart. A day or 2 later I found out that this young lady lived in my lil corner of the world. I heard the heartbreak that this person felt and it broke my heart all over again.
As someone who’s had her fair share of teasing, I understand how you feel. I have been teased and bullied for years until I finally put my foot down and said to myself, “No more. No more will I allow another person make me feel ‘less than’ or worthless.” That was the day I took back my life.
Thought for the day: If no one told you today they love you, let me be the first one to say…, hey, I love you.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts