First of all…this is not a happy post. It’s about online safety and metal illness and story of a teen suicide. This is a sensitive and scary subject. I don’t want to offend or deter anyone from reading I just want to warn you up front. I encourage everyone but especially those reading who may be teenagers or young adults to read this through and share their thoughts after with a friend, a parent or teacher or adult they trust.
O is for Online….
Where we all are right. Inside the internet. Where we are all safe and happy and completely aware of what we are reading and no one is silly enough to post credit card numbers, social insurance numbers (Canadian term y’all!) or our address and phone numbers right? We are all safe because we are aware. We are cautious. We are careful. Sounds about right? Not always though. In the midst of all this hoopla surrounding The Heart Bleed Bug (Yes, I just sent you to a Wiki link because no is marking me on APA right now gosh darn-it) making us all question the security of our passwords and personal information (SI numbers in Canada…still waiting to see if I am going to be one of the lucky +900 to get a registered letter :s) a story came up in my Twitter feed ( here) bringing me back to 2012 when I wrote a rant about the passing of a young girl named Amanda Todd who ended her own life after years of on-line bullying that all started because she felt safe and thought she knew who she was talking to and made an error in judgment. (You can see said rant here ). Yesterday a 35 year old man was arrested in connection to her suicide facing charges of: extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment, possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution, and possession of child pornography. My head and my heart almost exploded. First I though Good. Finally. Asshole!! Then I though of Mrs. Todd…Amanda’s Mom, who has since the death of her daughter devoted her life to advocacy and education surrounding online dangers, and my heart broke thinking of how this would never end for her. Everyday she has to live with the pain of loosing a child so soon: so young, but she also has to relive it in public, out loud in front of everyone. Then I was in awe of her strength and her drive and her wish to help prevent other parents, families, friends and strangers from having to live through what she is. I just want to say thank you to her. Thank you for your efforts Carol. Thank you for your courage.
When I was in school I chose a path in Mental Health and Addiction. We all struggle with that: either personally or know someone close to us who does, so it mattered to me andI wanted to know more.I had a placement position (by chance) with The Canadian Mental Health Association and it was AMAZING. My first experience with a suicide of a youth was hard, it broke me. It brought me back to my families struggles with the same issue. I hated the word suicide. I hated the thought. I was lucky though. Because of where I was and who I was with: My amazing preceptor Jackie (who I love with all of my heart!), I was ok. Right away I got a glimpse into the world of fighting back after suicide. I got a peek into the minds of our youth and got to hear in their words what mental illness looks and feels like. I got to hear first hand from a parent who suffered a loss: then fought back. In a big BAD ASS way to help others: to help us all. Because of this I am trained in Mental Health First Aid for Adults working with Youth.
My path in nursing has since swayed. It had to. I was not in a place in my own head after graduation where I could BE strong and supportive. I went left when I could have stayed right. I needed to heal my own head and silence my own demons. and I haven’t fully done that yet. However, I am getting very good at telling them to shut the hell up. I needed a push (sometimes a shove!). I needed a reason. I feel like this could be it: Hope. I feel like I saw some small sign of hope yesterday. 2 years later and they were still fighting for Amanda. I think I found hope.
A mental health crisis is not a joke. Please don’t ever take it as such. If you see someone struggling PLEASE offer them help. Be a friend. Be an ear or a shoulder: you could save a life. OH and this 1-800-668-6868. It’s the number for the kids help phone. Write this number down everywhere: make your kids memorize it. Make your kids call it when they need to.
Here are some links to wonderfully amazing information and services regarding mental health awareness and suicide prevention in Canada.
OR for your own country/province/state just open Google and use search terms such as: Crisis hotline, suicide hotline, crisis support, youth mental illness support
If you or anyone you know are having thought of harming themselves or others please: CALL 911, or your local emergency hotline, immediately and tell them it’s an emergency: even if you aren’t sure. Especially if you aren’t sure. It’s better to have a pissed off friend spend a night in the ER with a police officer and a nurse at their side than to not have that friend there ever again to be pissed off at you.
Be well everyone. Please. xox