Upon hearing about the death of Rehtaeh Parsons in Dartmouth Nova Scotia recently, it made me think; “What kind of world are we living in now that children are actually killing themselves?” I’ll tell you what kind. The kind that gives bullies a whole new medium of torture. Texting and social media were not issues with the older generations that may have suffered bullying in school. I know I myself, suffered my fair share in school coming from a family of limited means and a sheltering family that kept me from participating in normal childhood activities like sports, clubs, parties and other extracurricular activities. At least when I was young, you could leave school at school at go home to a safe place. Children today don’t have that. They’re being taunted at every turn. There is no safe place, there are only medications prescribed that do nothing but increase the feelings of helplessness, loneliness making those voices echo even louder and linger in your brain. I am talking from experience. I tried to take my own life twice as a teenager. I later tried again (while on Paxil) at 26.
I was a bit of a loner in my early years of school; I read a lot and tried to do well in my classes. I didn’t wear dresses or anything like that, opting for a more sensible 3 piece suit like attire with matching attache case… Yeah, I got teased. The boys never wanted to kiss me but I didn’t care about that anyway I was more in to the swings and monkey bars to be honest. Of course, I am a gay woman, so this and my love of tree climbing and golf just make sense now. I was also painfully shy and the other kids picked on me a lot knowing I would embarrass easily. That and a sudden weight gain in the 5th grade marked me a target for all the boys. I would get called and asked to “go steady” then they boy would call back and laugh in my ear. I was called fat; I was made an example of by the other kids. I was whipped by classmates with a skipping rope then later by cousins with clothesline wire. I once even got kicked so hard by one of my female classmates; she kicked me right in the spine causing me to fall over on the ground in pain and leaving a big bruise. The torture I experienced as a kid by older cousins and classmates often made me physically ill. I would cry to my mother that my stomach hurt so bad I was sick. By Six years old, I had a fully fledged anxiety disorder complete with digestive issues. This only got worse with time and by high school, I was beginning to take medications to calm myself down. Sure, I spoke to my teachers, my principals and my parents but no one ever did anything about it. The kids never got in trouble. In fact, I got in trouble for reporting it! By Junior high, I found myself thinking about suicide often.
My parents were divorced and had pretty much went on with their own lives often forgetting they had a child. I can’t begin to express as an adult how many needs of mine growing up were simply just ignored. I was lucky enough to have a best friend by high school whose family treated me like another child of theirs. I lived at my friend Tammy’s house. It was the only place I found peace, and to this day, I am extremely grateful to her and her family. Without my friends, I was quite a lonely, kid and teenager. I desperately tried to fit in but I never seemed to. I was a little quirky, dressed however I felt, I smoked, cursed like a sailor and liked whatever I liked. I hated trends and I hated hypocrisy. Although I may have looked like a cheerleader in high school (things shaped up for me once I hit puberty) I was really DYING to fit in with my nerdy friends who engaged in Dungeons & Dragons on the weekends… Damn you Aaron and Ian for never letting me play! Either way, I couldn’t win, I never fit in and all through school I had people that would casually bully me. I got tougher, the older I got, but the pain never left me really. It completely affected my confidence and self esteem even to this day. I recently had someone apologize to me actually. It was nice, it was awkward as I try to leave that past behind me, but it was definitely appreciated.
We’re told that things have come a long way since that. We have counselors, child psychologists, support groups, much of this wasn’t available to me when I was young. Yet, despite all these efforts, youth suicide is becoming more and more of an epidemic. We can wear all the pink we want but until we start really LISTENING and PAYING ATTENTION to children, introducing a tougher system in schools for dealing with bullying and get the phones out of the kids’ hands, this is only going to increase. You add things like psychotropic drugs that do nothing to help the child other than permanently destroy the child’s brain chemistry, preventing their brain to develop that crucial sense of reasoning and in essence making the child feel “different” by simply being on them. You will have disaster, how many young people do we have to hear about being destroyed until we start making serious changes in the mental health system?
I was a lucky one. I never succeeded in my attempts; there are far too many young people now that are. My deepest sympathies go out to the Parsons family here in Nova Scotia.
Read Rehtaeh’s story here: Who Failed Rehtaeh Parsons?
Live Humble, Be Charitable, Be Compassionate,
Who Failed Rehtaeh Parsons? http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/1122345-who-failed-rehtaeh-parsons