In May of 2015, public shaming led a girl to kill herself. Or so it seems.
To sum this up, the 13-year-old girl’s father cut her beautiful long hair off as punishment and videotaped her tearful reaction. Someone else got the video and uploaded it to YouTube. Izabel Laxamana then killed herself by jumping from a bridge. Police have concluded that the public shaming did not lead to her suicide, but I don’t see how they can be certain of that.
This strikes a chord for me. When I was 18, someone betrayed me to play a joke on me, trying to humiliate me in front of friends. I’m glad YouTube didn’t exist back then. The result was a nervous breakdown that made me suicidal for the next five years.
The point is that screwing with other people’s emotions, minds, and spirit can have devastating consequences, whether that person kills themselves or not. There are so many reasons not to do these things. We can never know what impact our actions will have. This doesn’t mean we need to walk around on eggshells, but it does mean we shouldn’t be needlessly cruel.
The father is guilty of that. By cutting her hair off, he made sure everyone she knew would ask her what had happened. She’d either have to lie or reveal the truth of bad behavior that led to the punishment. Both are cruel for forcing her to relive the shame and for not allowing her some privacy with her shame. The hair cutting offered no escape from the reminder of that punishment, which means that when someone turned it into public shaming, there was no escape from that shame.
People have dignity, and public shaming takes that away. That someone else uploaded the video to YouTube doesn’t exonerate the father, because if he hadn’t taken the footage, the video wouldn’t exist. He let this become possible.
The police seem to think she had other issues that led to her suicide. Well, if that was true, then how can public shaming improve her mental condition and not be a part of her death?
I am angry about Izabel’s death. Her lovely, sweet photo haunts me as I write this. These are the people who need saving.
It is too late for her, but maybe if one person gets it into their heads not to be needlessly cruel for fear of unforeseen consequences, Izabel’s life and death can have more meaning. Forward this as you wish.