Rebecca Marino, a Canadian tennis star once ranked No. 38 in the world, announced this week that she is quitting the sport due to a bout of depression that has been exacerbated by cyberbullying on social media sites.
According to the Canadian publication, The Star, 22-year-old Marino told reporters on a conference call she had received hateful messages such as "go die" and "burn in hell" on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. She also received messages slamming her for costing her fans money after betting on her tennis performance. Marino told reporters that she has a "thick skin," but felt that the "really hurtful" words hit her hard due to the depression with which she already struggles.
“My depression had come way before the so-called cyberbullying,” said Marino. Following her announcement, she deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Marino clarified that there were other reasons that she was stepping back from a sport she has trained for since grade school. She also feels burned out from the pressure, travelling, and time away from her family and said that she does not feel as passionate about tennis as she should to train. Still, Marino does want to raise awareness about cyberbullying and the effects such comments can have on self-esteem. Just because she's a celebrity, doesn't mean that she's immune to the negative side of social media.
“Cyberbullying is actually quite a scary thing and it’s something that people don’t talk about enough,” she said. “I know I’m not the only athlete who’s had harsh and venomous comments and I just want to raise awareness about that” Marino added.
Cyberbullying is big problem in our society, affecting everyone from 12-year-old middle schoolers to 22-year-old celebrity sports stars. The good news is that there are resources - like this free online course on cyberbullying from West Virginia University - that are helping to adress the issue. And experts still say that the best way to protect your kids from cyberbullying is to monitor their social media accounts and step in quickly if trouble appears.