Three elements of cyberbullying include intent to cause harm, repetition, and use of electronic devices (Breguet, 2007). In order for a bullying incident to be considered cyberbullying, the actions of the perpetrator must be connected to harm caused. Therefore, it should be intentional and not accidental. The bullying must have happened over and over, and must have been perpetrated through the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices (Breguet, 2007). From the aforementioned elements of cyberbullying, it can be concluded that Katlyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw should be charged with a cyberbullying crime. First, they sent denigrating text messages on Sedwick’s mobile phone and social media platforms wishing her harm (Wallace, 2014).
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For example, they repeatedly sent text messages saying that even if she died, she would not be missed. The issue of her death was covered in several text messages. Second, the bullying happened over and over both online and offline. The bullying had been going on for a long time before Sedwick committed suicide. Roman confessed to bullying Sedwick in sixth grade (Wallace, 2014). Another student admitted that she saw Roman bully Sedwick repeatedly. Third, the bullying was perpetrated through cell phones and the Internet. Denigrating text messages were sent to Sedwick’s Facebook page and mobile phone (Wallace, 2014). Roman and Shaw are guilty and should be charged with a cyberbullying crime.
The argument that undiagnosed depression is the main cause of suicide is wrong. In Sedwick’s case, her depression had been diagnosed and she was seeing a counselor. Despite efforts to address the issue, Sedwick’s life was filled with sad events including a poor relationship with her father, aggravated bullying, and fights between her parents. The statement is wrong because seeing a counselor is ineffective if the victim does not change aspects such as thinking patterns and environment. The environment is a critical component in the development of suicidal thoughts. Moreover, committing suicide is an indication that an individual could not take the pain of living any more.
Suicide is becoming an area of interest owing to the wide use of social media because of the role technology plays in encouraging suicide-related behavior. For example, cyberbullying has been shown to increase the rates of suicide among teenagers. Young people are influenced by the content they see on social media. Video blogs and videos on suicide are aimed at educating the public. However, they influence teenagers into embracing suicide-related attitudes and behaviors. Bullying has moved from schoolyards to social networking platforms. People use social media to harass, intimidate, traumatize, and harm other people (Marcovitz, 2010).
The severity of cyberbullying pushes people into suicide because of the embarrassment, shame, and trauma it causes. Social media does not push people to commit suicide. Nonetheless, improper uses such as cyberbullying exacerbate conditions such as depression and lead to suicide. Suicide will not receive sufficient attention to necessitate the provision of professional help for suicidal people because many western countries do not consider it a crime. For example, suicide was decriminalized in Australia and Europe (Marcovitz, 2010). In the United States, suicide is not illegal even though people who attempt it are punished in accordance with the law. Unless suicide is considered a crime by law, it will not receive sufficient attention for people to care enough to act. On the other hand, cases of suicide are underreported in many countries because it is against cultural norms to talk about it openly.
Two possible causes of varied suicide rates around the world include religion and social attitudes. In countries where suicide is considered a crime, many cases are hidden and as a result, go unreported to authorities. In Hungary, Singapore, and Japan, suicide is a criminal offence (Marcovitz, 2010). In other countries where religion plays a key role in the values and norms of the people, suicide is a topic that is rarely discussed. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is against cultural values to talk about or admit to suicide because it is shrouded in a stigma of guilt that prevents people from talking about suicidal thoughts (Marcovitz, 2010). In these countries, cases of suicide are very low because even though suicide happens, it is hidden from the authorities.
They are unreported for fear of stigmatization or punishment. Suicide should be considered a deviant behavior because it violates social norms. Moreover, it can be prevented if victims seek professional help for conditions that cause it such as depression and mental illnesses (Marcovitz, 2010). People commit suicide when the pain of living exceeds the ability of available resources to mitigate the pain. Counselors and therapist can help people with suicidal thoughts change their lives and find meaning in their existence (Marcovitz, 2010). Innumerable resources are available to help individuals overcome suicidal thoughts. In that regard, suicide should be considered a deviant behavior. In countries where suicide is not illegal, victims are still punished for attempting to end their lives. This is an indication that even though laws do not illegalize suicide, violation of social norms is unacceptable. Suicide is a socially-constructed concept that violates social norms and acceptable codes of behavior.
Breguet, T. (2007). Cyberbullying. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
Marcovitz, H. (2010). Suicide. New York, NY: ABDO.
Wallace, K. (2014). Police file raises questions about bullying in Rebecca Sedwick’s suicide. Web.