“My name is Amanda Todd”

October 16, 2012

The last cards in Amanda Todd’s video read “I have nobody, I need someone… my name is Amanda Todd”. Now the tragic irony of it all is that just a month later, upon conclusion of her short and tumultuous life, we would all know her name.

Over the last several years a number of equally tragic cases of teen suicide have also gone viral, inspiring a wave of public awareness campaigns and policy reform debates addressing bullying. This is an incredibly important development. This world profits from young people, but is not kind to them… so its high time people started recognizing the everyday challenges youth are facing today. It goes without saying that bullying is cowardly and destructive and needs to be addressed in every way possible. However, we must also recognize that this is often a reactive, rather than proactive approach to the issue.

We have all been bullied — of course some much more than others — yet no one is in a position to judge exactly why some are so affected by bullying that they are led to harm themselves. However, I have come to learn that oftentimes, the cool water just before the boiling point can be as simple as a concerned friend or a caring adult in a young person’s life. But clearly its not simple enough.

For me, Amanda’s video was more about her loneliness than it was about the horrible abuse which forced her into that isolation.

I have nobody, I need someone… my name is Amanda Todd.”

She asked to be heard, and not judged, but she had to pay with her life before she would get her wish.

It takes a lot to be a friend to someone who is going through a lot, and perhaps even more to try and mentor or counsel them. One has to be willing to listen more than talk, and remember that often its not our advice but our presence that will make the difference. For adults trying to intervene in a young person’s life, we must learn how to suspend judgment sometimes, so that we can actually hear what they are telling us. We won’t always agree with their decisions, but we often forfeit the opportunity to have an actual impact by becoming just another adult voice telling them how wrong they are.

Sadly, Amanda Todd is no longer with us. However, she will always be a reminder of all the young people in our lives who are just asking to be heard.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Amanda Todd.

@lpha

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