Do you know the story behind your teen's status updates?
Repeatedly sexually abused at the age of seven at the hands of her stepfather, Ashley Billasano finally took her own life at the age of eighteen. The troubled high school student took the day off to Tweet repeatedly last week about her life and state of mind.
"No one would believe her"
Key to her emotional state was her treatment by the authorities. According to her mother, Ashley “gave up. She felt like nothing was ever going to happen, nobody was ever going to believe her”, Billasano’s mom told CNN.
She reportedly sent 144 messages in six hours, touching on allegations of sexual abuse, the pain it caused and her long struggle for justice. According to one tweet, the final straw for Billasano was a phone call telling her it was unlikely her alleged abuser would ever be prosecuted.
Also according to reports, not one of her nearly 600 followers on Twitter attempted to intervene in what was clearly a period of intense emotional distress.
The prosecuting authorities have reopened the investigation into the alleged abuse, but it’s too late for Ashley, who had given up hope of being heard.
How to help your teen with social media
Many teens (and even pre-teens) have social media accounts, and it’s not uncommon for typically extreme teen emotions to end up as status updates, however, there’s always a chance that a social media account could be the medium of choice for a “cry for help”.
If you suspect your child is going through emotional distress, or contemplating self-harm or suicide, do intervene. Also, if your child is friends with someone who appears to be in distress, encourage them to help that person seek help, either through a counsellor, religious organisation, parent or a suicide help centre.
Infamous and sad last words
Ashley’s last Tweet, according to the Houston Chronicle: "That's the story of how I came to be who I am," she wrote, "well, the condensed version. I'd love to hear what you have to say. But I won't be around."
Does your child ever post status updates which make you nervous for their well-being?
By: Scott Dunlop