Landmarks in Canada will be lit purple for victims on Oct. 10
Mackenzie Murphy survived a suicide attempt, successfully pushed for an anti-bullying bylaw in Airdrie, Alta., and is still a target of ridicule.
© Submitted photo
Mackenzie Murphy (left) is working with people like Sandra Jansen, Alberta's associate minister of family and community safety, to combat bullying.
“I didn’t want to be known as the girl who committed suicide,” Murphy told the Times-Herald.
“I didn’t want anyone else doing what I did. I don’t want anyone else feeling as hopeless as I did, and many other kids.”
Murphy is turning 14-years-old.
On Sept. 16, she was in council chambers when Airdrie’s city council voted unanimously in favour of the anti-bullying provision to the public behaviour bylaw. It’s a bylaw she became the face of after her suicide attempt in December.
“I decided to go to my mayor and talk about the problems of bullying and what we can do to help. He decided we should make an anti-bullying bylaw,” Murphy said.
She said the process was long and involved a lot of work, but well worth the time and effort.
The new bylaw has a definition of bullying that includes cyber-bullying, because that’s where Murphy’s suffering began.
“People found my Tumblr, which is my blog, and that’s sort of where I stuck my feelings,” Murphy said. “People from my school found it and sent me anonymous hate, telling me to go kill myself and that I was fat.”
The bullying moved from her blog to her Facebook and Instagram accounts. Murphy’s peers would talk and laugh at inside jokes about her at school.
“It just all got too much,” Murphy said.
She now takes confidence from other communities wanting to implement similar bylaws or enforcement. Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi want to work with Murphy.
“At only 13, I’m a role model for people older than me,” Murphy said. “It’s crazy how much one person can do.”
Mackenzie’s mom, Tara Murphy, said she’s proud of how her daughter has been able to pursue this cause.
“I haven’t really done anything. This has all been Mackenzie. I’ve just supported her through it, and the reason being, I really saw it helping her,” Murphy said.
Not all the reaction Mackenzie received has been positive since advocating for the anti-bullying cause.
“Even up to today, she still has kids attacking her for doing what she’s doing — in her own town,” Murphy said.
“I see that for the few kids that are down on her, there’s hundreds of kids, parents and grandparents that are standing by her and supporting her in everything she’s doing.”
While Mackenzie was still in the hospital after trying to kill herself, Tara was introduced to Carol Todd through a mutual friend. Todd’s daughter Amanda committed suicide on Oct. 10, 2012. The two moms spoke often, with Todd giving Murphy advice and support.
“Since then, she’s become one of my best friends,” Murphy said.
The Murphys have joined the Amanda Todd Legacy Society and are spreading the word about a day of remembrance on Oct. 10, not only for Todd, but for all youth who have killed themselves or still suffer from mental illness.
The goal is to have every town, city and province lighting a building or landmark with purple. It will coincide with World Mental Health Day.
In Moose Jaw, the Regional Intersectoral Committee (RIC) Partners Against Violence plans on lighting Mac the Moose with purple, if permission is granted.
High school students in Moose Jaw can wear purple ribbon bracelets and the Smart Risk group at Vanier Collegiate will be baking cookies and icing them with purple.
Austin Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.