Monica Lewinsky describes herself as “patient zero” for losing her personal reputation on a global scale.
In April during a visit to Durango, the former White House intern who had a sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton will share her story about surviving cyberbullying.
The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado will bring Lewinsky to town to help generate conversation about cyberbullying and its impact on mental health, particularly among teenagers, said Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the foundation. Lewinsky’s talk, called “Post Positive: Change the Content,” is part of the foundation’s Making a Difference Speaker Series that aims to inspire conversations and introduce new perspectives.
Wrinkle said she expects Lewinksy’s visit to start a community conversation about the social impact of anonymous online bullying and how to change that culture.
“We are really trying to look at these social determinants of depression and suicide,” she said.
Lewinsky experienced thoughts of suicide and developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the national scandal. She will share how she overcame those feelings and thoughts as part of her talk, Wrinkle said.
“Truly, Monica was ground zero for cyberbullying,” she said.
Wrinkle was inspired to ask Lewinsky to come speak, in part, because of other talks she has given, including a Ted Talk posted on YouTube.
Cyberbullying is one factor that can damage an individual’s mental health. Wrinkle said it is an important aspect to discuss because teens spend so much time on their electronic devices.
“Phones become their lives. It’s the lifeline to their friends, it’s the line to their teachers,” she said.
Lewinsky will make two appearances in Durango: the first April 23 at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College and the second April 24 during a luncheon at the Henry Strater Theatre.
Lewinsky’s address at the Concert Hall will be followed by a panel discussion that will feature local experts from San Juan Basin Public Health, Durango School District 9-R and Fort Lewis College who will talk about local efforts to promote positive mental health and how to seek help, Wrinkle said.
“We need to go public, we need to talk about it,” she said.