When my daughter was nine, she would play on a game called Fantage. It was a cute cartoon game that encouraged fun, imagination, and pretend. They of course had parental controls in which you could oversee your child’s time on the game as well as how much contact they could have with others.
They were good at making sure curse words or any sexual innuendo did not take place. But kids as they are today, find ways to get around that despite how child-like this game is. With little chat bubbles, friends would follow each other around Fantage, playing games, meeting up with new pals, and buying the latest craze at the store with their ecoins.
One day however, a so-called new friend started to meet my daughter in the Fantage cartoon world and requested she go on another chat game without my knowledge. This new chat place had a video chat in which you could see a live person. That day changed my daughter’s life forever.
What ensued from that new chat were dangerous dares, bribery, threats, and suicide. Sadly, my daughter was confronted with those things. She was also exposed to seeing someone commit suicide in front of her through video. Twice.
Our daughter felt for years that she had done something wrong or maybe if she was more compassionate and helpful, they wouldn’t have ended their life. That burdened was so heavy, she started to self-harm, get depressed, and have suicidal tendencies herself. It took us years to find this truth out. She was too scared to tell us while she buried it in the back of her mind.
As much as she tried to forget, those impressions lasted a long time to which she started to befriend those who were lost, in pain, hurting, and very toxic. She found excuses for those who abused, were violent, and did wrong. She put herself in dangerous situations and eventually succumbed to living in anxiety and fear as well as depression. That only exacerbated feelings of suicide.
Thankfully today, she is on a new road. But she had to go through some very painful experiences to get to the peace she has now. She has learned that God was never far away. He was there waiting for her to turn towards Him for help. He showed her the truth about those who hurt and those who are harmful.
What would her life be like if she hadn’t seen a suicide play out in front of her? I guarantee it would have been very different.
This has been Suicide Prevention Week. It isn’t just those who are contemplating suicide but also the ones around them that are affected too. I pray that your child was not subjected to a life lost through suicide via a friend or an online video chat.
Teens today live in a very social-media world to which they encounter many problems that will affect their welfare; even more so, if they are a teen in crisis. It is important that you as the parent be as active as possible to ensure their safety. When you cannot be there, ask God to protect them from the dangers of this world and friends who are not good for them.
Lastly, talk to your teen about suicide and chat rooms. They need to know that you love them, are concerned about them and are praying for their protection.
More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.