VANCOUVER — A mock movie poster for “Suicide Squad” depicting Amanda Todd with celebrities who killed themselves has drawn the British Columbia teenager’s mother into another battle against cyberbullying and trolls.
Carol Todd is taking aim at an Internet memes she spotted including one with photographs of her daughter, actor Robin Williams and rocker Kurt Cobain. She said the images being spread online ridicule her daughter’s death and perpetuate misconceptions about suicide.
“It’s just contradictory to the message that we’re sending,” she said in an interview on Monday.”If you have mental illness and you are feeling that you’re not supported — and you need help — to go and ask for help.”
The 15-year-old girl from Port Coquitlam, B.C., took her own life in October 2012 after intense cyberbullying. She drew global attention to the issue by posting a YouTube video before her death recounting how she was relentlessly harassed.
Todd’s mother first became aware of one meme last week, and several variations created since then are being shared around the Internet. The film itself is a fictional thriller about a team of the world’s most dangerous super villains assembled by a secret government agency to execute black-ops missions.
“Ironically enough, if my daughter was alive she would probably be viewing the movie, that’s what young people are viewing these days,” said Todd, noting the film isn’t actually about suicide.
“(The meme is) just another way of attention seeking by people with trolling behaviours. They empower themselves with negativity.”
The fake posters only reference the film but have no direct affiliation with the movie.
Todd doesn’t know who produced the memes, but she has shared some of them on Facebook to start a discussion about the issue. She said some people tell her to ignore what’s being posted, but she instead sees the situation as an opportunity to raise awareness.
“We’re never going to get … gun control in the United States, and all those other issues that are around the world, if we don’t talk about them, if we don’t build awareness and we don’t build understanding,” she said.
“That’s why I can’t not say anything.”
Todd said she also wants people to be more sensitive when it comes to expressions about suicide. She said anybody who has lost a loved one is likely to be hypersensitive to words like “I’ve had a bad day, I think I’ll go kill myself.”
She is encouraging parents to discuss jokes and nonchalant speech about suicide with their children.
A Dutch man will be extradited to face charges in Canada in connection with the cyberbullying Amanda Todd endured. Aydin Coban faces five charges including extortion, possession of child pornography and attempting to lure a child online.
He will first go on trial on separate criminal charges in the Netherlands.
The cases of Todd and teenager Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia led to legal changes aimed at tackling cyberbullying.
Parsons’ father also spoke out when pictures of his daughter were used in online dating ads posted on Facebook after they were taken randomly from Google by a so-called image scraper. They were later removed by the administrator of the dating service, who apologized for their inadvertent use.
— Follow @TamsynBurgmann on Twitter
Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press
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