Natasha MacBryde was a stunningly attractive young girl with the world at her feet; in February this year she committed suicide aged only 15, because she had been bullied. Her story was back in the news last week for all the wrong reasons
. Suicide is a surprisingly common cause of death, even among the young, boys as well as girls. At times, things appear hopeless to many of us; the world is both so big and so cruel, and we are both so small and so insignificant, but if Natasha MacBryde and others like her stopped to think, they’d realise things aren’t so bad after all, not as bad as they could be.
Bethany Hamilton was raised in Hawaii and loved to surf, not everyone has that privilege, but not everyone has an arm ripped off at the age of 13.
Bethany was born February 8, 1990. On October 31, 2003, while out surfing with her friend Alana Blanchard and Alana’s father, she was attacked by one of only two creatures on this planet that regard man as a natural prey
. A tiger shark ripped off her left arm, and fortunately was satisfied with that, leaving her friends to help her paddle back to the shore.
Holt Blanchard improvised a tourniquet, and Bethany was rushed to hospital where, coincidentally, her own father was due to have an operation on his knee. Her medical condition being somewhat more pressing than his, she took his place on the operating table.
By a combination of good luck – if one may use that phrase – and the prompt action of her friends, she survived. So what does she do next? Her arm is barely healed when she decides she wants to go surfing again. There is that old story about falling off a horse – Christopher Reeve learned the hard way that is not always either true or possible – but surely this was a case where discretion might have been the better part of valour, after all, what if that shark decided to return and finish its lunch? Shark? Schmark! Not only did she go back in the water, she became a champion surfer, heck, before 2004 was out this 14 year old kid had even published her autobiography.
This morning, Bethany Hamilton
appeared on the BBC Breakfast
programme to promote the biopic Soul Surfer
, which unlike some screen biographies follows her life closely
. Bethany is blonde, stunningly blonde; we all know what they say about blondes, but this kid is not Britney Spears
, she has bundles of personality as well as intelligence, and most of all, character.
Incredibly, she is far from unique. Ali Abbas who lost both his arms when we bombed his country and murdered his family lives quietly in South London, and amazingly, doesn’t hate us. In Australia, there is a guy called Nick Vujicic
who was born without arms or legs; he is an evangelist and motivational speaker.
Ali Abbas has had a lot of help; Bethany comes from a fairly privileged background, and both she and Nick have had not only help but a spiritual dimension to their lives. Having said that, anytime you are feeling like ending it all, ask yourself this simple question – would you change places with any of them?
, the Bethany Hamilton story, is released September 23. Give the Hannibal Lecters and the Nightmares on Elm Street a miss this time.