Sunday, October 14, 2012

Amanda Todd's story

I'm going to go off-topic for this post, and not talk about anything travel related. If you're anywhere in B.C., or Canada, you know that the top-story for the last few days has been all about Amanda Todd. She is the girl who killed herself after being bullied, online and offline, for a long time.

Her story is very disturbing and very painful to read about. I saw bullying up close during all my years in school and I know how soul-crushing and destructive it can be. But the other part of Amanda's story has to do with her suicide, and while the media is talking a lot about bullying and how policies and laws should be changed to prevent it, there is (in my opinion) not enough information being made available about suicide prevention.

A close relative of mine lost her teenage son to suicide some years ago, and there were no warning signs that either his friends or family noticed, they were just left in agony and grief. It is a terrible thing, but we do need to talk about it and think about it.

Unfortunately, media coverage can increase the risk of other people trying to kill themselves. Now, I'm not saying Amanda's story should not be covered, because it is an important story, but I do think there is a need for more practical information about how to spot possible warning signs, and what to do if you suspect someone you know is contemplating suicide.

My contribution is a link to this Swedish website which offers some concrete tips and advice on what you can do to help. To me, the most important thing to put out there is this:
Do something now
You can save lives by reaching out a helping hand. Do not assume that things will get better / go away without help, or that he / she will seek help on their own.

Talking about suicide will not awaken suicidal thoughts, instead it encourages someone to talk about their feelings and often can help people to feel relieved. It is only by talking to the person about what is going on, that you can help him/her to seek the help that is needed.

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