A 16-year-old's parents are sounding the alarm on teen suicide following their daughters death, which they say was caused by cyberbullying.
Teen suicide is a perpetually growing issue in America. This epidemic has been increasing for decades, however, the COVID pandemic may have exacerbated the problem. Understanding just how serious the youth mental health crisis really is, a Florida family is sounding the alarm following the tragic death of their young daughter.
16-year-old McKenna Brown was a prominent athlete and on an upwards journey to accomplish big things in life. But just one day before starting her senior year at East Lake High in Tarpon Springs, Florida, the young student took her own life. Despite her teen suicide, her parents are stepping up, spreading awareness for common teen struggles, and looking for more accountability on those who might have had a play in their daughter’s tragic death.
Speaking with Fox 13 News, her father, Hunter Brown, noted that leading up to the teen suicide, she had recently faced issues involving physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Like a common theme with many other teenagers, McKenna faced cyberbullying. Her father added that she had been blackmailed and betrayed by a close friend.
What’s more, the 16-year-old student’s parents may have insinuated that the teen suicide might have been able to be prevented, if only her bully’s guardians had paid closer attention to what was happening. “You got to say something,” her mother, Cheryl pleaded. She discussed how parents need to speak up if they know something their child is doing may be negatively affecting a peer.
Turning grief into purpose, the mourning parents are turning their attention to raising awareness on the growing rate of teen suicide across the United States. The couple emphasized how far lessons of kindness and empathy go. Her father hopes that by discussing what happened to McKenna, others will feel the drive to reach out to youth that may feel alone.
Teen suicide is the second leading cause of death among this adolescent age group. Bullying has long been a major cause that can lead young adults to thoughts, or actions to harm themselves. And now that cyberbullying is becoming the prevalent form of social bullying, parents’ observation and guidance to the world wide web are more important than ever.
Social media apps like Snapchat make it easy for individuals to berate and tear down others. Teens go online and share embarrassing and explicit photos of others often for revenge or as a means to embarrass other children. Ramped-up parental controls are said to make these applications safer. However, new Snapchat settings only allow parents to see who their children interact with, not the potential hurtful messages they may be sending them. Overall, these efforts do little to deter the teen suicide epidemic.
McKenna’s parents said their daughter was hopeful to play women’s hockey when she went on to college next year before the teen suicide. This sheds some light on another growing concern in which young, female athletes are taking their lives. Over the past year, multiple college athletes’ tragic deaths have come at their own hands. This is leading many to raise awareness on the strain and struggles athletes face when having to keep up with rigorous school demands, and an urgency to keep their bodies in pristine physical shape for competition.
While the Brown family spreads their message of kindness and empathy, local authorities are currently investigating the teen’s suicide. It may not take the pain away from the countless families grieving from teen suicide. However, families like this are doing their part to bring much-needed attention to the growing epidemic.