Now, sharing their story of grief, Hellem is requesting parents to actively look into their children’s mental well-being, and not ignore it.
Most particularly, the mom is now raising awareness about the rampant problem of bullying, which not just took her child’s life but is a global problem that many children undergo silently.
Makayla, who was looking forward to getting a video game for her birthday died by suicide after being traumatized at school. The knowledge of the incidents was not known to her family, who are still in shock as to how their little girl was taken away.
Referring to her daughter as someone who used to be always “happy”, Villatoro says that the problem of bullying and harassment can cause profound problems and impact children’s mental well-being. In an interview, she spoke up saying:
“Bullying is an event that has become all too familiar in many schools. It is an experience that no one should have to live through but mental health and suicide affect every family.”
In another post, which is now being shared on social media, Hellem is encouraging parents to NOT ignore any warning signs, and pay close attention to how their child is feeling.
“Watch your kids closely, even if they say, ‘Mom, it’s okay.’ No. Push them. Push them. Look in their phones.”
This is also not the first incident of child bullying and suicide that has come to light. Of late, there has been a sad exponential rise in the number of teen suicides and trauma, a lot of which has been attributed to social media shaming and online trolling.
Problems of childhood bullying are on the rise
According to statistics, the bullying epidemic is on the rise, and more and more children are being subjugated to mean comments, bad jokes and trauma offline and online.
A 2018-based American Youth survey found that nearly 20% of kids aged between 12-18 were victims of bullying and complained that the incidents increased feelings of isolation, rejection, depression and anxiety amongst them, all of which have been linked to being suicidal triggers.
While there’s a need for stringent anti-bullying laws to be put in place, supporting a child who might be getting bullied is crucial too. Bullying instances should never be brushed off as ‘jokes’, or common childhood tactics.
If you suspect your child to have been bullied, here are some signs to look for:
-If a child sleeps poorly or suffers from nightmares often
-Observe changes in behaviour, appearance or personality
-Chronic occurrence of headaches and stomachaches resultant from stress
-Withdraws from society, stays unusually quite.
-Shows physical signs of distress, including cuts or bruises.
-Doesn’t interact with friends or peers
-Decline in academic performance.
-Changes in routine or interests.