Sunday, 11 August 2013

Further reflections on internet bullying suicides.

I have just read a piece on the Daily Mail web site which alleges that the 14 year old Hannah Smith, who hanged herself after alleged cyberbullying, had been sending troll messages to herself. I have no opinion on whether this is true or not. Her bereaved father, who has my sympathy, seemed to accept that it might be true.

>>>>Last night Hannah’s father David, 45, reacted with anger to the allegation.
‘Hannah was a 14-year-old girl who was being bullied and she took her own life,’ he said. ‘ is trying to cover its own back by discrediting Hannah. It’s disgusting.’
The firm claims that up to 98 per cent of the messages sent to Hannah came from the same IP address as her own computer. Only four posts were sent from a different machine, it has been reported. allows users to ask questions or invite them from other members but they can remain anonymous, allowing trolls to pick out victims.
Mr Smith, a lorry driver from  Lutterworth, Leicestershire, added that the issue was not if Hannah had sent any of the messages.

‘She was bullied online,’ he said. ‘Whether she wrote some of it herself doesn’t make any difference.
‘A 14-year-old girl has taken her own life because she was being bullied on the internet.
‘If Hannah did do some of it herself, then it just shows how desperate she was.’ <<<<

The article makes depressing reading, and of course the saddest thing is that a young woman has hanged herself. She hanged herself in her bedroom. Her sister found her hanged corpse, and now will not go up stairs. the family are selling the house of course they will not get a very good price for it. A friend of mine once bought a house very cheaply, the price was low for this very reason.

I remember reading a book by a Christian pastor some years back on his own depression and suicidal ideation. The book was jointly written by him and his counsellor. He said how painful the counselling was been but recognised that it had helped him.

The counsellor forced him to answer in detail questions about his possible suicide. He made him say exactly what he would have done, how, what time of day and finally who he thought would find the body. The man realised it would have been a member of his family, probably his young son. He then resolved however bad he felt, he would never act in such a wicked (yes I said wicked) way. Suicide is a sin against the God who gives life, and regardless of the eternal destiny of the suicide it is certainly an irrecoverable mistake.

Suicide is catching. It can be a learned behaviour,. Three generations of the Ernest Hemingway family killed themselves, and by the same method. In Hemingway's great novel 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', the central character Robert Jordan reflects on his father's suicide, clearly Hemingway was writing about himself. He later blew his own head off with a shotgun, and one of his sons later followed the family example.

Suicide is BLOODY SELFISH. It is about time that we stopped sanctifying people who do it as helpless victims. It hurts other people very badly and it is, at best, extremely ungrateful to the God who gave us the precious gift of life. The philosophy that says 'I am hurting so I can turn myself off' denies that you have any sense of duty to family, friends, society of our Creator. The Christian life is about service, you cannot serve others if you have chosen to be dead.

Hannah's father said 'A 14-year-old girl has taken her own life because she was being bullied on the internet.' I am sorry but the recently bereaved are not always the most logical, and this sentence taken as read (of course it may have been edited) seems to imply a cause and effect relationship which puts all the blame on the alleged bullies. She took her life after being bullied on the internet, but I suggest that the philosophy of life which she imbibed from our society may have been a factor as well. Of course there will be other factors of which I am ignorant. Yes, let bullies be shamed but let us also teach bullying avoidance strategies and that suicide is WRONG rather than demand more censorship. For pity's sake, she had to LOG ON to the site.

There is a lot in the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament about how to respond to being insulted. Someone schooled in the Scriptures, God's instruction manual, will have much protection against harmful impulses. Someone schooled in today's me-centred instant gratification culture will be thinking about themselves.

I am as sorry as the next person about the pointless and avoidable death of a young person whom I have never met, although I am not going to pretend to me more affected that I have any right or need to be. But I am annoyed at the responses making her out to be a blameless victim instead of being stupid and selfish, and putting all the blame on web service providers and calling for more censorship.

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