By Jasmine C. Dobbins
A study done in 2014 by McAfee, part of Intel Security, revealed that more than 87% of today’s youth have witnessed and/or been a victim of cyber bullying. And Elizabeth Long, a student at the University of Mississippi Ole Miss, unfortunately was also a victim of this growing epidemic, witnessing hateful comments on Yik Yak saying, “they didn’t care if she killed herself.”
However, Long has been working to ensure that no one ever has to resort to self-harm despite the hateful things said about them online, and more importantly, through Yik Yik.
About a year ago, Long took to the internet and social media to let everyone in on her story of how cyber bullying almost ended her life. She talked off how she was bullied all through school because of her appearance and her choice of friends. Long also admitted that she hit an all-time low when she finally decided to resort to self-harm.
And it should come as no surprise that Yik Yak was one of the many places where these online bullies would attack.
After the many years of countless experiences with bullying, Long made the decision to take her life, but ultimately failed in the attempt. And after being released from the hospital, Long decided to make a change, and was on the search to find an organization that fought against suicide and self-harm, but was unable to find anything. That is when she decided to take matters into her own hands and start an organization herself.
“I started the organization because after I got out of the hospital I wanted to help others who had been through what I went through. I couldn’t really find one so I decided I would start my own and share my own story and help others by sharing my experience,” Long said.
Long’s organization is called Life Worth Living, a non-profit organization created in 2013 out of Atlanta, GA, and includes people speaking in churches, schools, offices, etc. against self-harm, suicide and bullying. Long is the founder and CEO.
But Long didn’t stop there. She also started a petition in 2014 asking the founders of Yik Yak, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, to take down the app because of the negative impact it was having on teens across the country. And as of today, the petition has been signed by more than 82 thousand people.
“I decided to start the petition because I saw how many people it had affected at my school and I wanted it to stop hurting people so I decided to do something about it instead of just sitting there watching it destroy people,” Long said.
However, Long’s hesitations were put to rest after she and her father were personally invited to meet with the founders of the app, who assured her that there were precautions being taken to ensure that cyber bullying did not occur as often on the app. And Long was quick to make all of her followers of the petition aware of the meeting.
“I don’t necessarily want the app removed as I just want better safety precautions put in place and I want the safety precautions to be foolproof as well,” Long said.
Though Long had a change of heart about the removal of Yik Yak, she is still as passionate as ever about spreading awareness about the causes of cyber bullying, and not letting what almost happened to her, happen to any other teen that has been a victim of this cruel act.