Houston – Followers, likes, comments and shares are all part of social media, but for some teens, the vanity metrics on Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook can have a dark and depressing side.
That was the case for a local teen who attempted to take her own life after being tormented by bullies online.
“Her words were, ‘I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again,’” the teen’s mom said.
We’ve chosen to not identify the family due to the nature of the story, but thought it was important to share this story as a warning to other parents.
“She has always struggled with depression. So much of how she feels depends on how she thinks other people view her,” the 14-year-old’s mom said.
According to the mother, her daughter was very concerned about the number of people who liked her posts and the number of friends she had on any given platform.
“She got very used to communicating on Snapchat. When something would go wrong on social media or somebody would say something hurtful in a comment on Instagram or somebody would unfollow her, it would be devastating to her, and she really took that to be part of her self-worth,” the mother said.
The online bullying ramped up even more after she attempted to overdose on over-the-counter medication.
“Her sibling attends the same school, and while she was in the hospital and while she was in inpatient, kids were saying things in the hallway like ‘R.I.P. J***’ to him,” the mother said.
The comments online were even crueler.
“Kids were saying things to her like ‘Who fails at killing themselves? What a loser.’ Somebody sent something on Snapchat to a friend saying, ‘I hate that effing B. She should go try to OD again,’” the mother recalls.
DEPRESSION LEADS TO DRINKING & DANGEROUS DELIVERIES
The numbers surrounding teens and substance abuse are startling, according to a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- 2/3 of 12th graders have tried alcohol
- 20% of 12th graders have used prescription medicine without a prescription
After the suicide attempt, the teen began drinking. Her mom suspects it was to numb the pain.
A startling reality for this Houston-area mom because her family keeps all of its alcohol locked away.
“If they’re at home, they can’t get to the alcohol and they’re safe and we’re watching them,” the mom said.
But she still suspected something was awry.
“I asked her if she had been drinking one day and she said no,” the mother recalled.
After digging further, she found that not only was her 14-year-old daughter drinking, she was ordering the liquor online and having it delivered straight to their home.
“There are dealers on Snapchat that you can message and ask them for any type of alcohol, cigarettes marijuana, or whatever you want.” She said. “You give them your home address and they tell you a time that they will leave the products on the side of your house and you leave them cash.”
A DANGEROUS HOME DELIVERY
Dr. Laura Berman is well aware of how easily drug dealers can interact with teens.
Back in February, her son Samuel got pills from someone on Snapchat. Berman believes the pills were laced with Fentanyl and killed her son instantly.
“It’s not even an overdose. It’s actually murder through poisoning. I don’t even want to call it an accidental overdose because he didn’t know what he was taking. He was poisoned and murdered,” Berman said recently during an interview with Rania Mankarious of Crime Stoppers of Houston, and The Balanced Voice Podcast.
“What she found out when he basically consumed one pill .15 cents…15 cents, he paid for this one pill that they believe was laced with fentanyl (and) killed him instantly,” said Mankarious.
The Balanced Voice Ep. 24 | Dr. Laura Berman - Snapchat Tragedy
On this episode of The Balanced Voice Podcast, we welcome Dr. Laura Berman who you may know as a love & relationship expert, often seen on the Oprah Winfrey channel, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and The Today Show, as well as 8-time The New York Times bestselling author. However, we have recently come to know her in a whole new light as she navigates the unimaginable: losing her 16-year old son to a fentanyl-laced pill. In this heartbreaking conversation, Dr. Berman courageously shares her story with us to educate parents and mobilize legislators so that ultimately “not one more kid dies”. 💔 bestselling author. However, we have recently come to know her in a whole new light as she navigates the unimaginable: losing her 16-year old son to a fentanyl-laced pill. Find resources in our show notes: bit.ly/EP24-SnapchatTragedy - To listen and subscribe to the podcast just search “The Balanced Voice with Rania Mankarious” on your preferred podcast platform and hit #subscribe! 🔗 #socialmedia #socialmediasafety #tagedy #tragicloss #lauraberman #laura #berman #parenting #parent #teen #kid #children #phones #snapchat #hounews #awareness #stayathome #lockdown #shelter #podcast #rania #mankarious #raniamankarious #crimestoppers #prevention #gried #lossPosted by Crime Stoppers of Houston on Wednesday, March 24, 2021
According to Mankarious, getting access to alcohol, marijuana and pills is easier than parents can imagine and even harder to spot.
“It can look like a shoebox from a shoe company. It can come in a very small manila envelope, and nothing suspicious, just regular UPS, FedEx mail. It’s very, very hard for you to look at it and understand that something’s not right with the content,” Mankarious said.
Mankarious said parents need to have the drug and alcohol talk with their teens before an online drug dealer does.
“Talking to your child about the fact that you know that this is taking place. You know that they can get access to alcohol. You know they can get access to drugs, to pills, to counterfeit pills, prescription medication, and that it’s easy and can be delivered to the front door,” Mankarious said.
SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY BE DRINKING & USING DRUGS
One of the other warnings Mankarious has for parents is to let them know just how cheap the drugs are when these teens are making online orders.
“These kids, you can buy anything for nickels on the dollar or dimes on the dollar because the dealers want to make a client out of you. And eventually, the costs will increase your addiction will increase, and they will have a client for life or until this person dies. But then, the entry point becomes a no-brainer for these kids,” Mankarious said. “(They say) I have less than $1. It’s a click away. You already know where I live because all of these apps have GPS location devices tracking them.”
There are signs parents should be on the lookout for if they suspect their child may be using drugs or participating in underage drinking, according to the CDC:
Random and unexpected packages arriving at the home
Laughing for no reason
Frequent hunger or “munchies”
Smell of smoke on breath or clothes
Avoiding eye contact