I’ve been sitting on this a few days now because, well, I don’t know why. But a few days ago I was introduced to a parallel universe that has existed for as long as ours, and I’m absolutely shaken and sickened to my stomach.
Are you on instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Any kind of social media? Yes? No? Either way, let me introduce you to a very real, very disturbing trend among today’s teenagers. We hear all the time about sexting and sextortion, predators who use social media to hone in on the vulnerable and impressionable in society for their own gain… None of that is as god-awful as what I discovered on Friday night via Instagram.
And what I discovered was this:
And this was only the beginning. There is a whole trend of suicidal, depressed teenagers who are crying out for help and attention on Social Media. What’s far more disturbing is that others are not only happy to ignore their pain, but to encourage it, and encourage suicide.
People actually liked this post? What the hell is wrong with people!?
Think what you will about attention seeking teenagers and the perils of such behaviour. I admit; my immediate reaction was to view this as a plea for attention, and nothing more. But then I thought about it for a minute. I remembered what being a teenager with an anxiety disorder was like. I remembered the bitchiness in high school, the bullying that went along with Frenemies, and in my own right, I was considered decently popular in high school. It was hell. I wanted out of it more than anything.
I had a wonderfully supportive, loving family and home life. I had a good church group behind me, and I really didn’t have any serious problems aside from living with a few illnesses, one of which was anxiety. But life was miserable. So when the internet became available, and the channel of escape and fantasy was readily accessible to me, I jumped on the opportunity to escape my high school hell.
Thank GOD we didn’t have instagram or Facebook then. I dread to think of the cyber bullying that now happens because of these mediums. Bullies used to only be able to get you in the school yard. Now they can get you on Instagram and Social Media, on your phone, 24/7. It doesn’t stop. So why am I so shocked that these kinds of things exist?
Still not convinced we have a problem? Well, here:
This is called Self-Harm. And thousands, if not millions of teenagers are doing it. And now they’re posting it on Instagram accompanied with notes likes this:
Have we created a Parallel universe in which teenagers feel this is the only way to be heard? Or to express their pain?
It seems this is a new epidemic, and there are thousands more like this person.
Note the date of the last image. That’s today. This person might already be dead.
What would I say to me, ten years ago? Would I respond if someone told me life would get better? That Mean Girls and Bullies are real, and yes, they exist after school but part of growing up is that you can choose not to listen to them? That eventually, the pain lessens, you find out who you are, and realise it’s good?
How on earth can this be real? People want to complain about others posting too many pictures of their food, or their pets, or even themselves? Get a grip, for the love of God. Social Media is giving us the opportunity to reach these people, to meet them in their need. Why aren’t we utilising that better?
My heart is screaming. I feel powerless. I want to grab these girls and shake them and tell them they’re beautiful; works of art; unique masterpieces that the world needs. But I know it’s like shouting into a vacuum. They don’t hear the voices of those trying to help, they only see the likes on the pictures saying they want to kill themselves, and that they’re going to do it.
It might be a cry for attention, and not a real cry for help, but I’d rather not take that chance.
So my message to you, im_so_worthless21, is this:
Your pain is real.
You are hurting and I’m sorry.
Please don’t give up.
Life gets beautiful, even when you don’t see it.
Be strong. Prove everyone who has mean things to say about you wrong.
And don’t you dare believe the bad things people say.
Depression and Anxiety are horrible, but what comes after suicide is even worse.
You can make it.
I believe in you.
I wish I had more coherent thoughts on this. I wish I could write some eloquent piece that would make people reassess their attitudes to this thing.
All I have is my heart in my mouth and a plea to anyone thinking of self harm or suicide.
Please, speak up.
Your life matters.