Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Todd Loik: Pink Shirt Day
Today is Pink Shirt Day and the first annual Delete Day. Why are these things important? Read the names in the blog title. We do this for those like Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons and Todd Loik who feel there is no other alternative to bullying then to end their lives.
Amanda Todd was only weeks short of celebrating her 16th birthday when she decided to end her life. Amanda had been bullied immensely both online and offline by her peers and some online child predators. Can you imagine logging into your social media account and seeing, “Drink bleach and die”? How can anyone handle that, let alone a vulnerable youth. No thoughts go into the words and the more dire the effect, the better the bullies seemed to have liked it. Amanda’s mom, Carol Todd, has been working hard, not only for her daughter, but for all those other son’s and daughter’s, like Amanda, who cry alone and think the darkness will never end. Carol has and continues to work with other parent’s, like her, left behind with no screaming/slamming door teenager.
Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 when she tried to take her own life after having a major issue happen and, what appeared to be, no support to deal with it. Rehtaeh’s failed attempt at taking her life, by hanging, caused her to instead, go into a coma. Her parent’s made the decision to remove Rehtaeh from life support and she passed away April 7, 2013. Rehtaeh was a wonderful young woman with so much to live for and yet she was driven to the point where she chose to end her life rather than live with the pain it was bringing and probably would continue to bring. Her mother, Leah Parsons, and father, Glen Canning, have continued to seek answers in the criminal system and have been part of changing a law in Canada in regards to content which can be posted of a person who is under the age of 18. The law states that a minor cannot give consent to have any explicit content recorded and or shared. In British Columbia, Canada, there are currently a number of charges pending against students and other youth. Sometimes sharing online can get you arrested.
Todd Loik, like Amanda Todd, was 15 years old when he chose to take his own life because just breathing became hard. Todd’s mom, Kim Loik, admits she was aware of the bullies and told her son to try and ignore them and their constant attacks on Facebook and sending hateful texts to his mobile.
The night before he took his life, he received another attack. Kim sobbed as she said, “I told him to go to bed and not worry about it.” Little did she know that she would find her son deceased the next morning. Like Amanda and Rehtaeh he chose suicide over dealing with the pain of any further bullying.
The police have had an ongoing investigation in to the death of all three of these children. Yes they are children. They belong to a parent and no matter how old they are, our children are always and forever going to be our children.
The sad connection between the loss of all three youth, are their parents who are left behind to try and pick up the pieces, find out why their children took their own lives and then to reach out to parents and other youth to let them know they are not alone. The parent’s have been connected through grief and love.
So now we are wondering what does wearing a pink shirt have to do with any of this, right? Well the Pink Shirt Day started when a young man was bullied on the east coast of Canada after wearing a pink shirt to school. Some students thought that what happened wasn’t right and sought to bring attention to the immediate bullying situation in their school.
A rally was organized by some students who asked every student to wear a pink shirt to school, regardless of their sexuality, and support the young man. The young man was afraid to wear another pink shirt to school and the day of the even, didn’t wear one to school but was given was by one of the organizers. The support for this young man was amazing and word soon spread as far as the west coast of Canada. All over Canada people wear Pink Shirts to let those who are being bullied know they are not alone and that there is support if they reach for it. The day also shows bullies that we will no longer sit idly by and watch as someone is victimized for things like wearing the wrong style of running shoe, not looking the same as the other students, being an alternate sexuality, having less money or for their looks. The more attention we pay to this, the stronger message we send to those who choose to bully on and offline.
Now as for the Delete Day which is in it’s first year, it is exactly what it says. How many people have said something they looked back at later and thought, “Oh wow I can’t believe I said that”? We have a choice to delete all the messages we regret sending. We can choose to delete all the people on our social media like Facebook, who we do not really know. We can choose to delete our bad attitudes and delete bullying others from our lives today too.
Next year there will be new names to add to the title of the blog, or will there? Maybe not. Maybe change begins by acknowledging it needs to be done and that it starts with us. Maybe we can look outside ourselves and see what our youth see each and every day. Maybe parents can learn to listen to their youth about what is going on in their lives. Maybe we can do something by wearing a pink shirt and deleting the bad from our lives. Maybe we can save one life so this list of children, gone too soon. Maybe. It all begins with you and with me. What we choose to do or not do, will help decide whether things change or whether they don’t and we continue to add names to a list. I hope we can do something.
Stay strong ~ Amanda Todd/Carol Todd
Thank you for reading this blog and for supporting such a great cause.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or is suicidal, please contact your health practitioner and don’t be ashamed to admit you need some help. We are not invincible, we are human.