September 28, 2020

BY WHITNEY SOUTH

In the weeks since 15-year-old Amanda Todd took her own life, a public outcry calling for justice has brought focus once again to the problem of bullying and its impact on teenagers across Canada.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers. Car accidents are the first.

Many blame teen suicide on changing hormones, passing even serious attempts off as nothing but adolescent cries for attention.

BullyingCanada.ca, a national anti-bullying organization, states a study published in the medical Journal of Pediatrics found about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying.

Bullying has been around for as long as anyone can remember. From sibling rivalry to workplace harassment, being bullied is something that most people have experienced at least once in their lives.

In the wake of the Todd tragedy, the Canadian government is stepping in and taking action against what many believe to be a growing threat to the country’s young population.

Spearheaded by Quebec MP Dany Morin, the House of Commons will be introducing a motion proposing a study of the scope of bullying in Canada and calling for more funding and support for organizations involved with anti-bullying campaigns.

Bullying is not considered an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada; however, many elements of it are, including assault, uttering threats and criminal harassment.

The study should also look at mental health and its role relating to suicide.

Saying that bullying causes teen suicide is like blaming the tragedy at Columbine on violent video games.

Studies indicate that more than 90 per cent of suicide victims have a diagnosable psychiatric illness. A frightening statistic, society needs to realize that these conditions are serious and not something to be swept under the rug.

In this day and age, suicide is something people still don’t talk about. But when a tragedy such as Todd’s is thrown into the spotlight, people are quick to point fingers and place blame.

According to the CMHA, only one out of every five Canadian children who need mental health assistance receives it.

If we keep ignoring the fact that mental illness is the key cause of teen suicide, we risk losing more lives every day.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.