Courtesy of creative commons.

Courtesy of creative commons.

How many times has someone joked about internet trolls in the past? How many times has one talked to you about someone behind their back? It’s tough to count, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s how rampant bullying is. Contrary to the famous saying, words can seriously hurt someone. Not many people understand just how much of an impact their words have on others. For some people, an insult may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Next thing you know, they’re in the news or in a viral video for taking their own life.

The most popular account of suicide from bullying comes from Amanda Todd. Two years before her death, Todd was video chatting with random people who complimented her looks and one of them convinced her to expose herself. The stranger then used the photos he took to blackmail her into a “show.” Police informed her later that the photos of her were circulating on the internet, which resulted in her family having to move. However, the blackmailer resurfaced on Facebook, circulating the photos to all her classmates, which resulted in her being bullied at school and changing classes.

The abuse cycle continued—her family would move, she’d change accounts, the blackmailer would resurface and circulate the images, and her classmates would bully her about it. Her mental state worsened. Her grades suffered and she had to be treated for severe depression, all of which was ammo for her bullies to use. On Sept 7. 2012, she posted a video describing her experiences, and then a month later, she was found dead in her home. However, even after her death, she was still bullied by others who posted inappropriate photos on her memorial page and turned it into a “Suicide Squad” meme.

I, myself, was bullied for eight years straight in grade school because I was trying to fit in and do what others were doing. Any mistake I made big or small was made into a big deal and I couldn’t even appreciate my accomplishments because they were always undermined. I fell in love with a beautiful woman, but I didn’t understand how to appropriately express my feelings. I lost that woman’s friendship as a result and the bullying increased. There were times when I had contemplated how life would be if I had never existed or if I had ended it right then and there. I don’t know how I made it through but I did.

Bullying is a very serious issue, and as a community, we should never use our words to cause pain or humiliation; but instead to express love and appreciation. It is also NOT the victim’s responsibility to “toughen up,” and simply ignoring the bullies does nothing but enable them. The bullies must be held accountable for the pain they inflict on others, verbal or physical. Many lives are lost to bullying and it must end as soon as possible. If you see someone in trouble, defend them or tell an authority figure. Hold the bullies accountable, the next person who could be lost might be the person sitting right next you.

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