Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of bullying and violence against children that may disturb some readers.
On November 28, celebrity photographer Lu Daosen (real name Zhou Peng) posted a suicide note to netizens on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform. Three days later, on December 1, his body was found by police.
According to the official police notice, the investigation concluded that his death was not a homicide.
In the suicide note posted online, the 26-year-old shared his experiences of being abused by his parents, being a “left behind” child, and getting bullied at school for being quiet.
Specifically, the late photographer wrote that he was hit by his parents when he was 9 years old because he couldn’t figure out a problem that was too advanced for his grade. Equally troubling, his peers at school made fun of Zhou for not looking masculine, and they humiliated him by giving him insulting nicknames.
“Who can I talk to? When people in this world are all numb because they’ve all experienced this [bullying and abuse], maybe the world can’t be saved anymore,” Zhou wrote.
Zhou also shared his struggles of being haunted by childhood memories, resulting in him feeling lonely and not worthy of love: “People like me, we are driven, and we are not scared of anything. We just aren’t loved.”
He ended the saddening note with, “What a beautiful world, but it just didn’t belong to me.”
Zhou Peng. Image via Weibo
The heartbreaking news soon went viral on social media, with netizens calling for increased mental health awareness and kindness for each other. The related hashtag ‘Save other people suffering like Lu Daosen’ (#拯救身边鹿道森#) was trending on Weibo, accumulating more than 340 million views at the time of writing.
“Parents, be more understanding. Society, be more supportive. People, be more kind,” one netizen wrote, calling for more support for content creators like Zhou.
Another opined, “If you are experiencing anything like this, please reach out to your close friends and mental health professionals.”
Some also shared tips on healing from childhood trauma. An education blogger posted a video encouraging those who had a difficult childhood to share their experiences and find comfort with one another.
The death of Zhou shows that some people in China, despite their success, are still battling traumatic childhood memories of violence and bullying.
Nonetheless, netizens’ responses to this painful tragedy show that more people are becoming aware of the importance of child welfare and the danger of school bullying.
At the start of this year, China’s education ministry launched a national anti-bullying campaign for primary and middle schools. Through the new campaign, schools are required to stop incidences of bullying and contact the police if the offense is serious.
Moreover, the ministry’s guidelines call for more mental health resources for bullying victims and in-depth training for students to prevent bullying.
Rest in peace, Lu Daosen.
If you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) in the US. For those in China, contact the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center at 010-8295-1332 (from mobile) and 800-810-1117 (from landlines). Visit here for additional resources.
Cover image via Pixabay
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