Tag Archive: suicide


This morning at Essex District High School and this evening at Essex Gospel Community Church we have the opportunity to hear Brett Ullman speak about a difficult topic that is most often not talked about in our school, churches, or homes. It is talked about in popular media, music videos, movies and video games. This topic is self-harm and substance abuse.

This is what Brett’s website (www.brettullman) says about this topic and his talks:

Today, thousands of young people, under-confident and often scared, are seeking release from their personal struggles in ways many adults would prefer not to contemplate and, sadly, ignore. You probably have friends who cut, friends who are bulimic and you know self-injury is a serious problem in teen culture today. Self-injury is taking teen culture by storm and its impact is evident in movies, music lyrics and countless music videos. This talk opens up discussion, raises awareness and shows a way out of the darkness.

The school wide assembly at 12PM today was well attended (~800-900 students) and 90% of the individuals indicated to Brett that they knew someone who had struggled with cutting and/or self-harm. After the talk there were at least a dozen students who spoke with Brett about a variety of real issues that they were facing. This is the first step…talk to someone about this.

I know that there are many people within our community who struggle with self-harm and substance abuse; I know this because I have heard their stories. I also know that while some are brave enough to talk about these things, even more people do not.

If this is you or someone you know, you do need to talk about it and you can get help. The staff and volunteers at Emergency Ministries (EGCC’s Sr. High Youth Program) are more than happy to talk to you and give you the help that we can offer; we are also happy to help you find help for situations that are beyond what you can handle alone. You can reach us on facebook (Emergency Ministries) or by e-mail (youth@essexgospel.com).

Take the first step…you can do this!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46)

It seems that Facebook has been the topic of some interesting media coverage lately. It is not surprising that Facebook is in the media for some reason; there are over 500 million users worldwide! Certainly this must be an administrative nightmare at the best of times.

Let me tell you about three recent news reports. The first report that caught my eye this morning was on CBC.ca and was entitled “Facebook Depression raised by MDs for teens” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/03/28/facebook-social-media-teens-children.html). The premise of this article is that medical doctors are now starting to see a phenomenon in teenagers that is similar to depression but is caused by devastating experiences with social networking. This is how something like this might work: a teenager signs up for a Facebook account and can then sees the pictures and postings of their friends or others they might know from school who do not have strict privacy settings on their profiles. Perhaps this teenager reaches out and requests friendship with several of his/her classmates and is rejected or simply ignored. Maybe there is a group event that is initiated but this person is not included on the invite list. Or, perhaps after posting pictures of himself/herself or family events others respond with hurtful or degrading comments.

This is essentially the online equivalent of getting picked last in gym class…times a million because everyone in the school will see it in their newsfeed over and over and over again. More than just one event in time, offenses that take place on Facebook are present indefinitely and the hurt can be relived each time it is viewed or talked about.

Is this for real, you might ask? Well, let me tell you about the two other reports that have been in the news recently.

The second and third reports are both from the Chronicle Herald (Nova Scotia’s provincial newspaper published in Halifax, NS). One article was published on Friday March 25th and was entitled “Is Lower Sackville teen’s suicide a result of cyberbullying?” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020294.html). The other was published on Saturday March 26th and was entitled “Online bullying, suicide link probed” (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020297.html). All of this after a 14 year old girl from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia killed herself this past week. At some point after her suicide there was a memorial page started on Facebook and numerous comments attributed her death to cyberbullying. Now, family members and her principal are questioning these reports stating that other factors likely contributed to this death…which makes me wonder… if just days after the death we can be so certain about what contributed to it, why then did we not reach out two weeks ago to prevent it? Anyhow, I digress. The fact is that there is a perception that cyberbullying certainly contributed to this unfortunate ending of life and the RCMP in Nova Scotia are following up this lead.

Here are my thoughts on all of this: it is for good reason that Facebook has a policy that you must be 13 years old to have an account and that even those individuals who are older than 13 should still consult with their parents as they experience Facebook. I know for a fact that many teenagers somewhat embellish pictures, ages, and other features about themselves on Facebook…I know this because I know these people in real life and I also follow many (many, many…) teenagers on Facebook and see the glaring discrepancies.

Social media in itself is not to blame for the depression or suicide described above. Facebook, or the less popular (and less monitored by adults) social network found at formspring.me, are tools that can be used for much good. Mandy and I connect with family that live a great distance away using social networking tools.

Here are some beginning thoughts to keep safe while using the benefits of social media:

1. Be true to who you are! Post pictures, posts, and birthdays that are accurate! Misrepresenting yourself online can never lead  to good things. You are unique and special in your own way and you don’t have to pretend to be something that you are not.

2. Treat bullying seriously. Bullying is never ok, and just because it isn’t face to face (but on Facebook instead) it still hurts and obviously has devastating consequences. Don’t do it, don’t believe it, and don’t stay silent about it!

3. Involve parents and other people in your online activities. Don’t ever let your online habits become so secretive that you are not talking with parents and others that you trust about what is taking place online. Parents, talk to your kids about their online habits just the same as you would about the friends they see in real life and the places they go in real life. As someone said, Facebook is the new ‘corner store’ where teens go to hang out.

Lets strive to make sure these past news reports never become future headlines once again.