Please Stop Bullying.
Being alone has never felt so lonely.
Being alone in the current COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown, has never felt so lonely before. Many people's mental health has been severely affected by the lockdown, even those who believed they would be able to stay strong throughout the lockdown.
Bullying has been a part of life for many people, maybe this coming from being different at school, not conforming to the social norm or just because the bully is just not a nice person. Many, many people have either been bullied or experienced bullying. I would go as far to say that everyone knows someone who has been bullies or have been bullied themselves, and the impact this has is hard enough at the best of times when the massive support networks are there and available.
According to statistics from ditchthelabel.org from their 2016 annual bullying survey, 1.5 million... 1.5 MILLION young people responded saying they had been bullied in the last year, with 145,800 (19%) being bullied every day. This is unacceptable. How can we expect young people to feel safe, happy, and able to live life to the fullest when so many are facing bullying at school constantly. Alarmingly, this report also showed that 24% of those who have been bullied, go on to be bullies themselves. This self perpetuating cycle is the reason there are so many people with deteriorating mental health. 44% of young people who have been bullied have experienced depression. 41% of young people who have been bullied experience social anxiety and 33% of young people who have been bullied experience suicidal thoughts. (survey document can be found here https://www.ditchthelabel.org/research-papers/the-annual-bullying-survey-2018/)
Some might say that name-calling and teasing is 'character building' or 'toughening you up for the real world' and even 'words can't hurt you'. But these are very, very wrong. It has real consequences. It causes permeant damage to the personal health of anyone of any age. There is a direct correlation between those being bullied and increased levels of poor mental health.
Only in January 2020, TV personality and I'm A Celebrity star Caroline Flack took her own life after being subjected to large amounts of cyber bulling over her appearance. She was 40. She was at an age where many people believe there is no longer any bulling or that you would be 'grown up' enough to deal with it. But this shows that we are susceptible at all ages. It doesn't matter how old you are, bullying and cyber-bullying has the same impact. Caroline took her own life because of poor decisions from other people behind the safety of a screen.
This morning, 23rd May 2020, news came out that up and coming Japanese Professional Wrestler Hana Kimura took her own life. She was 22. She has just started her career in the all female promotion 'Stardom Wrestling'. She showed great promise and was loved by all wresting fans. Her fan page on Instagram amassing over 20,000 followers in a short time. Alongside wrestling she was a star on Netflix's Japanese reality show 'Terrace House'. After an argument with a housemate on the show, which TV spun to be more 'dramatic' Hana was subjected to large amounts of online hate. Many people going as far to say 'kill yourself', 'die' and many other hurtful messages. Her last post on Instagram was a photo of her with her cat with the caption simply reading 'goodbye'.
Caroline was 40. Hana was 22.
These words are no longer 'character building', 'toughening you up' or a verbal communication that won't hurt you and you'll soon forget. These words are killing people. People are dying because of the things said online.
The two people mentioned in this article are only an incredibly small handful of those who are facing cyber-bulling and felt this was their only way out of it. Bullying affects anyone and everyone of any age, any background, any ethnicity, any social standing. Everyone if affected. Everyone's actions have consequences.
From the comfort of being behind a screen, the consequences of our words are not fully considered. Next time you are going to say something hateful, consider that it may be the comment that breaks that camels back. It may be the last thing someone reads.
So please stop bullying. Stop cyber-bulling. Consider you words and consider the consequences of those words. If you have something hateful or hurtful to say, don't say it. Keep those opinions to yourself. If you post hurtful messages, you are part of the problem.
There is time to change this behaviour. If you have said something hurtful. Delete your messages, comments or posts. Reach out to those you have hurt and say you're sorry. It may seem trivial but to some people, an apology and a change in behaviour from the person they were being bullied by could mean the difference between life and death.
It's not difficult to be nice. Especially during #mentalhealthawarenessweek. Reach out to your friends and your family. Let them know you are there. If you see someone being bullied, say something, reach out to them and let them know that you're there to support them. Let them know there are charities which can help them massively; Mind, Bullying UK, Ditch the Label, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation etc. They're there to help. Some people just need a reminder they're there and there are people looking out for them.
If you are affected by any of the content in this article then please remember that there are people out there who want to help you. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. I'll link some charities below that can be of help.
Stay safe, stay positive and stop bullying.
Charities (only a select number covering a wide number of bases. There are hundred more out there):