The truth behind 6 disturbing cyberbullying cases that turned into suicide stories…
Also browse: 100 Must-Read Cyberbullying Articles and The 2014 Cyberbullying Statistics
Wikipedia defines cyberbullying as, “Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner. According to U.S. Legal Definitions, Cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with approximately 4,400 deaths every year. The CDC estimates that there are at least 100 suicide attempts for every suicide among young people. More than 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide and nearly 7 percent have attempted it, that is why you will, sadly, read about cyberbullying cases in the media now more than ever.
Unfortunately, without an example, it’s hard to understand exactly what cyberbullying is and how a cyberbully acts. This why it is essential to share recent cyberbullying cases with the world.
Here are six stories of cyberbullying cases that garnered national, and in some cases, global attention:
Cyber Bullying Stories: The Ryan Halligan Case (1989 – 2003)
The Cyberbullying Story:the website operated by Ryan’s parents, John and Kelly Halligan, early concerns about Ryan’s speech, language and motor skills development led to him receiving special education services from pre-school through the fourth grade. Ryan’s academic and physical struggles made him the regular target of a particular bully at school between the fifth and seventh grade. In February 2003, a fight between Ryan and the bully not only ended the harassment at school, but led to a supposed friendship.
However, after Ryan shared an embarrassing personal story, the newly found friend returned to being a bully and used the information to start a rumour that Ryan was gay. The taunting continued into the summer of 2003, although Ryan thought that he had struck a friendship with a pretty, popular girl through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Instead, he later learned that the girl and her friends thought it would be funny to make Ryan think the girl liked him and use it to have him share more personally embarrassing material—which was copied and pasted into AIM exchanges with her friends. On October 7, 2003, Ryan hanged himself in the family bathroom. After his son’s death, John discovered a folder filled with IM exchanges throughout that summer that made him realize “that technology was being utilized as weapons far more effective and reaching [than] the simple ones we had as kids.”
Cyber Bullying Stories: The Megan Meier Case (1992 – 2006)
The Cyberbullying Story: In December 2007, Tina Meier founded the nonprofit Megan Meier Foundation. The non-profit was named in honour of Tina’s 13-year-old daughter who hanged herself in a bedroom closet in October 2006. Megan struggled with attention deficit disorder and depression in addition to issues with her weight. About five weeks before her death, a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans asked Megan to be friends on the social networking website MySpace. The two began communicating online regularly, although they never met in person or spoke on the phone. “Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem,” Tina said on the Foundation website. “And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty.”
In mid-October, Josh began saying he didn’t want to be friends anymore, and the messages became more cruel on October 16, 2006, when Josh concluded by telling Megan, “The world would be a better place without you.” The cyberbullying escalated when additional classmates and friends on MySpace began writing disturbing messages and bulletins. Tina said on the Foundation website that it was about 20 minutes after Megan went to her room after leaving the computer that the mother found her daughter had hanged herself in her bedroom closet. Megan died the following day, three weeks before what would have been her 14th birthday.
Cyber Bullying Stories: The Cyberbullying Cases of Jessica Logan (1990 – 2008) and Hope Witsell (1996 – 2009)
The Cyberbullying Story: Jessica Logan was an 18-year-old Sycamore High School senior who sent nude photo of herself to her boyfriend, but the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the photo was sent to hundreds of teenagers in at least seven Cincinnati-area high schools after the couple broke up. According to the University of Alabama’s cyberbullying website, the cyber bullying continued through Facebook, MySpace and text messages. Jessica hanged herself after attending the funeral of another boy who had committed suicide.
A little more than one year later, 13-year-old Hope Sitwell hanged herself after a picture of her breasts that she “sexted” to her boyfriend was shared amongst students at six different schools in area of Ruskin, Florida, friends and family told CNN. Hope never told her parents about the “Hope Hater Page” that was started on MySpace that led to additional cyber bullying.
Cyber Bullying Stories: The Tyler Clementi Case (1991 – 2010)
The Cyberbullying Story: It was during the summer after his high school graduation that 18-year-old Tyler Clementi began sharing that he was gay. Clemenit’s room mate during his freshman year at Rutgers University, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam in September 2010 to stream footage of Clementi kissing another man. According to the Tyler Clementi Foundation, the teenager learned through his room mate’s Twitter feed that he had become “a topic of ridicule in his new social environment.” On September 22, 2010, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Cyber Bullying Stories: The Amanda Todd Case (1996 – 2012)
The Cyberbullying Story: In October 2012, ABC News reported that the video Amanda Todd had posted to YouTube had been viewed more than 17 million times. In the video entitled “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm,” the British Columbia teenager uses flash cards to tell about her experiences of being blackmailed and bullied. A little over a month after posting the video on September 7, 2012, Amanda hanged herself in her home on October 10, 2012.
Amanda began using video chat in the seventh grade to meet new people online, and one stranger convinced the teenager to bare her breasts on camera. However, the stranger attempted to use the photo to blackmail Amanda, and the picture began circulating on the internet, including a Facebook profile that used the topless photograph as the profile image. “The Internet stalker she flashed kept stalking her,” Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, told the Vancouver Sun. “Every time she moved schools he would go undercover and become a Facebook friend.”
Unfortunately, these are only some of the stories that are occurring all around us on a daily basis. These cyber bullying cases demonstrate that there are actions that many members of the community can take to prevent additional harassment. Parents, educators and other school officials need to recognize signs of cyberbullying, and we must all make a more concerted effort to help cyberbully victims.
The cyberbully victim is not going to declare “I am a cyberbully victim”, instead they are going to assume no one can understand them and help them and resort to self harm or even suicide. It is up to parents and educators to remind each cyberbully victim that help is available and understanding is available if they feel victimized by a cyberbully. It is up to you to tell them that the cyberbully doesn’t control their lives.
It also feels appropriate and more than essential to mention the underlying danger of young teenage porn viewers. When there is young teenage porn involved, a teen’s idea of violence, sex and relationships changes drastically and influences his/her interactions with the community.
If you are not a victim, spread awareness about bullying and cyberbullying by sharing these tragic stories, you might be helping someone out!