A 17-year-old girl died on Sunday when she was taken off life-support after an attempted suicide earlier last week.
Rehtaeh Parsons, from Nova Scotia, hung herself in her bathroom on Thursday as her mother attempted to break down the door. The suicide, her mother stated, was the result of a rape in 2011 and an onslaught of bullying that came after the traumatic incident.
It’s impossible to learn about her and not be disillusioned, shaken, and angry that a community and justice system failed so miserably. How do we not point fingers at her peers who harassed her on the internet and over the phone? How do we not condemn the police and local justice system, which failed to press charges against her rapists, stating that the whole matter was a case of "he said, she said"? And how on Earth do we not hold responsible, legally and socially, the four teenage boys that raped and took a picture of Rehtaeh, which they then circulated throughout the school in 2011?
Asking ourselves these questions, and wondering what we would have done if we were her friends, family, or someone in the community is important to helping prevent these incidents—which have become so common—in the future.
Rape is wrong. Rape shaming is wrong. Bullying is wrong. We know this and yet Rehtaeh still went through the gauntlet and took her own life as a result. We know this and yet we still call other women "sluts" and "whores." We hear more and more stories about teens being harassed day and night, in school and online, without escape, about their sexuality. It's time to stop contributing to that. It's time to stop judging, and show love and support.
Every single person reading this blog post will be in crisis at one time or another. Everyone will be vulnerable. Instead of driving one another to suicide, we need to all try a little harder to show love and understanding, even if we get called names for it, too.