Bullying

Bullying

And Why We're Not Doing Enough As a Society To Stop It
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Bullying is simply defined as "use of superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone)" but it is not just that simple. There is both direct and indirect bullying and within these two are many forms. Physical which most obviously deals with harm to the body and harming of a person. Verbal which is the use of derogatory terms, violent language, and aggressive speech to demean and belittle a person or cause emotional harm. Relational deals with the efforts of someone to trash another's reputation through rumors, postings, etc. Last but not least, there is the classic form of damage to property which is not just limited to egging a house, but deflating tires, breaking and entering, smashing phones, glasses, stealing clothes, etc. It's funny that with all of these different forms of bullying displayed every day and clearly outlined on the Internet, that people still try to find ways to justify the actions of bullies.

I will be the first to say that I blatantly do not give a shit about your past or any excuse you will come up with for being a horrible human being. I do not care what you have been through in your life or who made you hate yourself so much. NONE of this is an excuse to defile or treat another human in the same way. I know it must be a foreign concept to many because we live in a selfish society where everyone is constantly stepping on others to try and reach some untouchable shrine of popularity and social acceptance and will do whatever it takes to keep people below them no matter the effect it has on that person. Well here's a news flash, such a thing doesn't freakin exist people so give up the act!

It does not make you look cool by being a bitch to someone for no reason. You are not cool for inflicting harm on someone else just for you and your buddies to record it and post it on Snap. I don't care if you don't like their hair color or outfits. I don't care if he is athletic or can reprogram an entire video game. I don't care if she prefers to read books and sit alone or has to post all over Instagram in order to receive satisfaction from others. Let people do whatever they want and stop trying to act like someone died and made you the queen or king of everyone. Because if your parents haven't broken it to you yet, the world doesn't revolve around you, sweetie.

We have all been through our awkward stages and experienced the glances, whispers, rumors, nudges in the hallways, and just feeling like we're not good enough. If you claim that this never happened to you then be considered lucky. For many of us, this was a reality at some point or other in our life. In fact, 80% of girls and 79% of boys have reported being bullied either online or in school. That's a pretty big percent huh, yeah I thought so too. Only about 30% of students actually admit to bullying themselves, ironic isn't it? Even more shocking is that 40% of boys who were identified as bullies continue the trend of abuse into adulthood. Coincidence, I think not.

Now time for the chilling facts. According to ABC News, about 160,000 kids stay home to avoid bullying each DAY. Bullying, both physical and cyber, is one of the leading factors in teen depression and anxiety nationally. Such mental health issues are also linked to leading factors in teen suicides. Suicide is currently the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults and is responsible for nearly 4,500 deaths per year according to the CDC. Additionally, for every suicide that results in death, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.

I'm not here simply to write an informative article about bullying. My goal is to provide some chilling statistics as to how severe bullying has become in this day and age and why it is one of the top THREE leading causes of death in our youth today. If that doesn't scare you then maybe you need to reference my other statistics. The next teen suicide could be one of your friends, a sibling, cousin, someone you know who you had no idea was having to go through such trauma every single day.

My hometown recently witnessed the tragic death of one of our teenage students who had been dealing with bullying for years on end, beginning in elementary school. On November 2nd, 2017 Angelo decided to take his life and relieve himself of the pain he lived in due to the effects of constant bullying. No mother, father, family, or friend should ever have to deal with the grief and pain of knowing that this was the reality for their child. It is time for school districts, bullies, and bystanders to STOP making excuses and exceptions for the pain that these victims of bullying have to experience in their daily lives. You can always be doing MORE to help.

It starts by educating everyone on the reality of bullying. A bystander should never be able to sit there and watch another person be harmed, belittled, or intimidated. Say something, tell someone, take action. School districts should be implementing programs to help students who experience bullying and taking REAL action to penalize the bullies for their malicious acts. Excuses are just excuses and words are simply words, it should never take the loss of a human life for action to be taken. The time is NOW.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-government-report-finds-pervasive-anti-lgbt-bullying_us_591c9c91e4b0e8f558bb2336

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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10 Ways In Which I Have Dealt With Losing A Friend To Suicide

December 8, 2017 was a day my world became a little darker.

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Just your normal Friday evening, it was snowing, and my classes were done for the semester. I was on the third floor of our campus library. When all of a sudden I got a dreaded email. He was gone. The guy who although I only knew him for a couple weeks came to the back of the bus to come talk to me while I rode to my piano class. I would be lying if I told you that I have been okay physically, emotionally, and/or mentally since that day. But here are some things I have learned to ensure I am healthy during this tough season.

1. Understanding the situation

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This is the first time that I have really lost someone close to me in a pretty traumatic way. The feeling of shock and grief can be pretty overwhelming. Sitting with those feelings can be really uncomfortable but are 100% necessary.

2. Realize that no two people experience loss in the same way 

I think the hardest thing for me has been looking at others who were also close to him, much closer than I was, and thinking that they have their life together and are not having the type of bad days I am experiencing. I have to constantly remind myself that people go through different stages of grief at different speeds, and there is no "right way" of showing how much you are hurting.

3. Acknowledge that this situation is unique

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Losing a friend or loved one is never easy. However, when you lose someone to suicide as I did, it can feel different from other types of loss. Several circumstances such as the stigma around this issue can make death by suicide different, making the healing process more challenging.

4. Fight the stigma

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Stigma around mental health and suicide have been a problem in our society recently, and as a pre-health profession major, I have worked to the best of my ability to break that stigma down to the ground.

5. Understand that there can be risks for survivors (AKA me)

People who have recently experienced a loss by suicide are at increased risk of having suicidal thoughts themselves. After experiencing the loss of a loved one, it's not uncommon to wish you were dead or to feel like the pain is unbearable. Remember that having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you will act on them. These feelings and thoughts will likely decrease over time, but if you find them too intense, or if you're considering putting your thoughts into action, seek support from a mental health professional.

6. Find support 

It's very important to find people in your life who are good listeners so that you can turn to someone when you need extra support. You may find it helpful to talk to a friend, family member, mental health professional, or spiritual advisor.

7. Stay present 

Take each moment as it comes. That way, you can better accept whatever you're feeling and be able to respond in the way that is most helpful to you. I personally benefit from calling my best friend. Some people find journaling helpful to let go of your thoughts for now.

8. Find time and space for yourself to grieve BUT don't allow yourself to be in that space for very long 

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Acknowledging your experiences is necessary. Whether it's talking about it with a friend, journaling, or just sitting with your thoughts in private. Just make sure you leave enough time to do something pleasantly distracting from time to time. Social events or pleasant activities can provide relaxation and distraction. Laughter heals the soul.

9. It's OK to cry

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Just because I just said to schedule fun activities doesn't mean that you should bottle up feelings for that time. It's okay to have those emotional breakdowns once in a while.

10. Have an accountability partner 

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With the one year anniversary coming up with my friend, I have already brought in two of my really good friends into my life that have promised to check up on me all week to make sure I am balancing feelings with living my life. Find that someone or two that will walk with you during this difficult season.

To anyone reading this article and has gone through a similar struggle with losing a friend to suicide, know that I know how it feels, and I am here for you. Life may seem unbearable right now but it will get better. Probably not today or tomorrow, and in my case, not a year later. But believe it or not, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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