According to the WHO – World Health Organisation, one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds – One helpless life dies because no-one is there to answer their cry. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.K for men under the age of 35 (according to the MHF – Mental Health Foundation), and yet it is one of the most avoidable. Too many people die needlessly because not enough has been done to combat this global issue.
Schools play a massive role in the upbringing of children and young adults. It is here where we learn the fundamentals of life and where our personalities and friendships grow. It can also be a place were our lives take a turn for the worst due to the activities that take place. In the 4th year of high school in Ireland we were issued with a Code of Conduct which expressed the school's desire to abolish discrimination and promote inclusion for or by its pupils. It had a section dedicated to its anti-bullying policy and it was here that it defined what discrimination was classed as. It said:”discrimination is the unjust treatment of different categories of people; be that due to race, religion or physical appearance.” Once I read it, I immediately picked up on the fact that, in the eyes of the school administrators, discrimination was only limited to those groups of people; and, that sexual orientation was no-where to be seen. To any heterosexual person this may seem minor and it may not have even occurred to them that it was missing. However, in my opinion it wasn't right. It allowed homophobic bullying to take place and the school would do nothing to stop it. What was more astonishing was that it was well known in Ireland, that LGB – Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual- people are five times more likely to attempt suicide (as evidenced by livescience.com) than their heterosexual counterparts due to bullying. Thus the school was unwittingly encouraging bullying towards LGB pupils. This would have allowed bullies to harass and harangue these pupils to the extent that they may ultimately have been the cause of their death through suicide; even though it wasn't committed by the hands of the perpetrators.
However, suicide due to bullying isn't just limited to schools. Facebook and other social media may have played a huge part in the untimely deaths of many teenagers. One such case was that of Amanda Todd. Those social media took no action against combating cyberbullying and led to Amanda's suicide. Amanda Todd was a young teenage girl who made an unfortunate mistake. She had flashed her breasts to the wrong person who ended up blackmailing her, and made what little hopes she had, at a life, nothing more than tools for his sadistic enjoyment. At this point Amanda turned to the agencies, who were supposed to help her, but did not receive the support she needed and therefore was let down at her time of need. Eventually she couldn't take it anymore and attempted to ingest bleach in an attempt to commit suicide. She failed, and was rushed to hospital where her stomach was pumped. Comments on social media and YouTube spread- even more so after she committed suicide. One person posted a picture of a bottle of bleach and said, “It’s to die for!” Another person who claimed to be Amanda Todd's classmate told a CTV reporter, “I'm so happy that she's dead now.” This highlights the extremes of bullying and how horrible Amanda Todd must have felt. It allows you to understand why she committed suicide and that she was so helpless and alone. No-one gave her the support she needed. No-one told her how to deal with cyberbullying and then she ended up dead at her own hands. Surely no-one should feel so let down by society that they end their life in such a fashion.
Moreover, not only did the Internet play a major part in the premature death of Amanda Todd, but it appears to be playing a very sinister part in suicide. I came across information on a BBC news site that stated that, ‘Unlike in some countries, pro-suicide sites are not banned in the U.K.’ Seemingly when researchers from Bristol, Oxford and Manchester Universities had looked for information on suicide they were presented with an unprecedented number of sites that were unbelievably advocating, endorsing or facilitating suicide. Subsequent sites offered information on how to actually carry out a variety of methods of committing suicide in a step by step fashion; or to chat rooms discussing such methods! When an approach was made to the U.K. Internet Service Providers Association to try to put strategies in place that would prioritise sites promoting the prevention of suicide initially, their response was: ‘It did not have editorial control over site prioritisation and would only take sites down if they were illegal.’ Similarly, a petition was submitted to Downing Street by a group called Papyrus to end this practise. In response the government promised to support suggestions made in a report by clinical psychologist and parenting expert Tanya Byron in 2008, when she advised the formation of a UK Council on Child Internet Safety. This body would be overseen by a representative from the Home Office and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. So far nothing has happened! What type of society can endorse such apathetic abuse? Society appears to be trivialising the lives of suicidal people by disregarding their lives and condoning those sites instead of taking action to prevent them and their information being available in future for the use of vulnerable suicidal victims.
Suicide, therefore, has been identified as a global issue that should be addressed across the world. It must be as obvious to you as it is to me that there is not sufficient support given to address this matter. There does not appear to be enough being done. Innocent people like Amanda Todd end their lives when they could easily have been saved. Schools need to ensure that all forms of bullying or discrimination must be dealt with; to try to reduce the number of pupil deaths caused by suicide. If you look at the bigger picture the Governments worldwide need to take matters into their own hands – The individuals who we trust to govern our country and what happens to its people, need to combat suicide, or else more needless deaths will result. I can't stress this point enough. Society (composed of Schools, the Government and the General Public) will have to play a major part in order to develop successful strategies to help curtail suicide rates.
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