Warning: This post deals with themes of suicide and may be triggering for some readers.
By LUCY ORMONDE
A 12-year-old girl is dead.
She’s dead because of a group of 15 other girls thought that they were better than her.
She’s dead because society failed her.
She’s dead because not enough people recognised her multiple cries for help.
Her name was Rebecca Ann Sedwick. But to family? She was simply, “Becca”.
The last time Rebecca’s mum, Trisha Norman saw her daughter alive was on the evening of September 8 this year, when Rebecca was sitting on the couch and playing with her phone.
Trisha said goodnight and went to bed. When she woke up the next morning, she assumed Rebecca had left early for school.
But Rebecca never went to school that day. She never returned home either.
It’s believed that Rebecca took her own life after enduring more than a year of relentless and hurtful bullying at school and on social media. This, from the US news:
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference Thursday that Rebecca Ann Sedwick had been “absolutely terrorized on social media” for more than a year before killing herself. Her body was found early Tuesday morning at a former cement plant. Sedwick was reported missing Monday night after she failed to come home from school.
Judd also said that Sedwick shared her plan to commit suicide with an online friend, identified as a 12-year-old boy living in North Carolina. Sedwick reportedly told the boy, “… I can’t take it anymore” and changed her screenname on a phone-messaging program, Kik Messenger, to “That Dead Girl.”
The bullying started last year when Rebecca was a student at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Florida.
The bullying became so extreme that Rebecca was hospitalised for cutting herself. At that point, her mum closed her Facebook account down, took away her mobile phone use and even made her daughter move schools. She was desperate to protect her.
After changing schools and receiving counseling for a period of four months, it seemed like things were getting better for Rebecca.
But it now appears that that was far from true.
Police investigating Rebecca’s death have since discovered that the 12-year-old continued to be bullied through social media sites like Instagram (a photo sharing app), ask.fm (an app that allows users to ask anonymous questions), Kik (an app that acts as a private free messenger service), and Voxer (also a messenger service).
This from The New York Times:
… Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications.
Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children’s online relationships.
Rebecca’s mother Trisha told the New York Times that she went through her daughter’s phone on occasion but wasn’t aware of the apps and what they did: “I had never even heard of them; I did go through her phone but didn’t even know… I had no reason to even think that anything was going on. She was laughing and joking,” Trisha said.
But when the police searched Rebecca’s computer, they found search terms like “What is overweight for a 13-year-old girl?” and “How many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die?”