Heartbreaking news out of Florida: 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied online by 15 girls, jumping to her death at a cement plant in her hometown of Lakeland.
As the mother of a 12-year-old girl, just imagining what this child's parents are going through makes me feel utterly ill -- her life had barely begun! But as a former 12-year-old girl, imagining what Rebecca went through makes me feel equally sick. Among the insults her bullies posted on the internet: "Go kill yourself" and "Why are you still alive?"
Just terrible. And here's the part that makes me want to spend 100% of my energy monitoring my daughter's presence online: Sedwick left a series of digital clues before her death. She messaged one friend saying "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore," and changed her name on a messaging application to "That Dead Girl."
If only someone had recognized the signs. Sadly, Sedwick isn't the only teen to leave such a trail in recent days ...
Just weeks ago, on the first day of school in the town where I live (Greenwich, CT), high school sophomore Bart Palosz killed himself with his family's shotgun. In the days and weeks leading up to that tragic day, Palosz posted many suicidal thoughts on social media. Palosz, too, was bullied.
The girls who drove Rebecca to suicide might be charged with felony cyber stalking, but of course that won't bring her back. We can only hope that other bullied kids are saved as a result of parents and friends hearing Rebecca's story.
If the words someone is using -- even online -- indicate they may be considering suicide, or if you yourself have wrestled with the idea, please reach out to a suicide hotline. There is ALWAYS someone there who wants to listen and who will take you seriously. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
How do you think we can help bullied teens?
Image via NatalieMaynor/Flickr