Friday, June 20, 2008

Story of bullied teenager in Australia

A familar story..

Read Tori Matthews-Osman's story about bullying
Geelong Advertiser, Australia -

Another article points out music has little to do with slf harm and it is a myth:

Generation ‘whine’ and other self-harm myths
On Line opinion, Australia - 18 Jun 2008

You tried it once because you wanted to feel alive, and when you tried to stop, your mind declared otherwise. You replaced one kind of pain with another, which felt a lot like self-help, and the logic of your universe came undone.

Or perhaps you've never cared about self-harm, maybe you just read about it, and became interested in the lore of “cutting culture” - how it is a fad promoted by the “emo” subculture, how it is all about attention-seeking, all about suicidal intent, all about manipulation, how it drove some kid in America to shoot his classmates. Perhaps you don't care about self-harm at all.

Well, now would be a good time to start.

Young people who self-harm* provoke plenty of vilification, but not enough care. Figures published recently by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show that hospitalisation for self-harm among people aged 12 to 24 has risen by 43 per cent in 10 years.

But while the jump is disturbing, so too is the hidden number of young people who self-harm but don’t seek help, silent casualties of moral panic and mental health stigma. Ignorance has allowed self-harm to become something ridiculed and taboo, something to talk about in whispers, with cynical sneers. Much is said about self-harm; very little of that is true.

So let's clear up a few misconceptions. Self-harm is not a fashion statement. It is not about exploiting the goodwill of others in order to be noticed. It does not “cause” homicidal behaviour, unless you are a darkly imaginative journalist with a penchant for attention-grabbing sensationalism. Self-harm’s tenuous link to emo (short for “emotional”) comes from the music genre’s lyrics - intimate, confessional - and though they’re certainly an acquired taste, it’s na├»ve to believe that counterculture is the poison in the well of mainstream society.

Rather, self-harm is a coping mechanism. It is a way of controlling, diverting or communicating overwhelming feelings. (The relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex; in most cases it is not intended to be fatal.)

This interesting article reveals how prejudice against emo feeds into prompting people with mental problems into feeling even worse about themselves:

Teen faces mental health stigma
Caledon Enterprise, Canada 20 June 08

After making the long arduous climb out of depression, 16-year-old Di Sha Phillip wants to extend a hand to others trying to make the same difficult ascent.
The Brampton Centennial Secondary School student is a bright, articulate young woman determined to remove the public stigma that clings to those suffering from mental health disorders and creates a potential obstacle to recovery.
While battling depression, Phillip found stigma stained the way others saw her and even how she viewed herself. Neither perspective aided in getting help or recovering from the emotional fall that landed this teenager in a mental health unit at the local hospital.
Phillip has bravely stepped forward to put a face on mental illness and establish a grassroots organization she has dubbed Students Erasing the Stigma. Her hope is to start youth chapters within local schools to raise awareness about mental health issues and assist troubled students looking for help.
“I’m doing this because I got out of a really bad situation last year with depression and I’ve been involved in the mental health system and I realized there isn’t a lot of youth activism going on, like at a local level, to help people understand mental illness and mental disorders,” she said.
Phillip is a high academic achiever who, at a glance, might seem an unlikely candidate to experience serious mental crisis. However, experts agree mental illness has no regard for intellect, gender, age, race, ethnicity or socio-economic standing. It strikes without discrimination, can be paralyzing and sometimes be fatal.
Last year, Phillip was a Grade 10 student in Turner Fenton Secondary School’s highly regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. The demanding pre-university course challenges the academic and life skills of high school students with the Peel District School Board. Program graduates can access universities all over the world.

As depression began to take a firm grasp, other students in the highly competitive IB program started to see her as emotionally weak. She found herself shunned by peers, bullied and the topic of gossip. She has since transferred out of the IB program to Brampton Centennial.
Some schoolmates last year referred to her as an “emo— a popular culture term and stereotype used to sometimes describe someone who can be emotional, introverted, depressed, prone to self-injury and suicidal.
“I didn’t necessarily fit that kind of image, but I was very unhappy,” she admitted. “I did say a lot of negative things about my life, how I didn’t like myself and I didn’t like the way I was and the person I’d become and I guess they kind of didn’t really understand what was going on with me and they kind of started to ostracize me in that way.”
High expectations, academic demands, stress and competition in the program, coupled with her poor self-perception, grandmother’s death and depression eventually led to a nervous breakdown.
“I understood my feelings, but it took me a while to realize what I was feeling was depression and it was a serious mental illness.”

1 comment:

Mariah said...

Your detication to this cause is admirable.

It is large issue today, but it will be an uphill battle to "fix." Many also do not recognize it.