Government feared ‘copycat’ suicides if Amanda Todd’s mother joined conference

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

The suicide of B.C. teenager Amanda Todd was enough to prompt the provincial government to host an anti-bullying conference but not quite enough to get the child's mother on the guest list.

The B.C. government defended itself for not inviting Carol Todd to its summit earlier this week, telling the Globe and Mail it could have triggered a "copycat [suicide] response" from some of the fragile young victims who attended the event.

It seems the B.C. government has accepted the martyr, but not her mother.

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Amanda Todd suicide last month garnered widespread attention and prompted debate about the effects of bullying following the discovery of an eight-minute video she posted on YouTube weeks before her death.

In the video, the 15-year-old recounted her experience of being bullied at school and online, described her descent into depression and reached out for support and understanding.

Kevin Cameron, director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, told the Globe that Wednesday's event was purposely tailored to avoid focusing on Todd's suicide, adding there was a need to lower the anxiety level following the incident.

But it begs the question: Exactly what was the point of the whole spectacle? Holding an anti-bullying summit in the wake of the suicide of a bullied teenager that does not address the issue of suicide seems counter-intuitive.

The line of thinking is similar to what prompted a B.C. anti-bullying expert to urge teachers not to show Todd's video to their students.

Carol Todd has said her daughter's video should be used as a learning tool. She wants to be a part of that discussion. Without knowing Todd, it is reasonable to expect she feels she failed her daughter and is desperate to help in any way she can.

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She knows first-hand the effects of bullying can have, not just on a child but on a family. There may be a lesson in there worth listening to.