18-Year-Old Kills Herself in Front of Family & Apparently Cyberbullying Is to Blame


One Texas family is living through a horror no parents or siblings should ever have to experience. Brandy Vela, 18, shot herself in the chest as her loved ones begged her to change her mind. Heartbreakingly, the family says that relentless cyberbullying drove the young woman to the point that she felt she could no longer go on.


The devastating event occurred November 29 at the family's Texas City home. Brandy's sister, Jacqueline, 22, shared with Click 2 Houston that she received a frightening text from her that day that stated, "I love you so much just remember that please and I'm so sorry for everything."

One can only imagine the terrifying thoughts that raced through Jacqueline's mind as she rushed to her sister in an attempt to stop her from harming herself.

"I heard someone crying so I ran upstairs and I looked in her room and she’s against the wall and she has a gun pointed at her chest and she’s just crying and crying and I'm like, 'Brandy please don't, Brandy no,'" said Jacqueline.

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Unfortunately, even Brandy's dad, Raul Vela, was unable to stop his daughter.

"We tried to persuade her to put the gun down, but she was determined," he told CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV. "She said she'd come too far to turn back. It was very unfortunate that I had to see that. It's hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless."

Jacqueline explained to CNN that despite Brandy's beauty, she'd always been bullied about her weight. But in April, the bullies upped their torment, taking it to the Internet and making Brandy's life worse than ever before.

Raul told KHOU-TV that as a victim of relentless cyberbullying, Brandy's tormentors went so far as to set up fake profiles and social media posts offering sexual acts to those who called his daughter's phone numbers. 

While Brandy had contacted police about it and even changed her phone number, law enforcement was apparently unable to assist because the app the bullies used couldn't be traced. 

"They couldn't do anything because [the suspects] used an app and it wasn't traceable and they couldn't do something until something happened, like they fight," Jacqueline told CNN.

Now, in the wake of this tragedy, Texas City police Captain Joe Stanton told CNN that detectives have interviewed family members and will be contacting those the Velas consider suspects. He also said that several tips have also been received and police will be looking into those as well. 

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It has to be devastating for this family to see action being taken now, when it is too late to save Brandy. Still, this father wants justice. According to CBS, Raul hopes that what will come out of his daughter's death are a greater awareness of cyberbullying and stricter laws against it.

Currently, under the Texas Penal Code, it's illegal to send repeated electronic communications to harass, annoy, torment, or embarrass someone -- but the crime is merely a class B misdemeanor. A state lawmaker has thankfully, though, introduced a bill, which, if passed, would drastically increase penalties for these acts.

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Our hearts ache for this family who has lost a loved one too soon all because of the senseless cruelty of a few who hid behind a screen and made this young woman's life unbearable. 

This story is a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating power that words inflict. To be repeatedly insulted and demeaned day in and day out by an anonymous group would be more than most could bear. 

As much and as often as schools advise students to "be an upstander rather than a bystander," peer pressure and the ability to remain anonymous make it all too easy for some to err on the wrong side rather than go against the tide and do the right thing.

To honor the young woman remembered for her blue eyes and bright smile, Post-it notes are reportedly being placed around her room with messages, such as "You will always own a piece of my heart" and "You will never be forgotten."

If only Brandy were able to hear these words and see these actions, perhaps it would have been able to silence all the negative voices that ultimately claimed her life.


If you or someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts, please let them know they are not alone. Text START to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at www.sprc.org

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