Warning this post deals with issues of suicide and cyber bullying and may be distressing for some readers.
Matthew Burdette was a boy scout, a member of the school wrestling team and on the water polo squad.
He had a loving family and an adored big sister, Masha.
A 14-year old with his life ahead of him. Until cyber bullying took it away.
Matthew Burdette, from San Diego, committed suicide after being relentlessly tormented by fellow students. Matthew’s parents have now lodged a $1 million lawsuit after his death.
In 2013 Matthew was kicked out of his high school class for eating sunflower seeds during a lesson. It is alleged that with nowhere to go he went to the bathroom cubicle where another student secretly filmed him over the top of the stalls while Matthew was allegedly masturbating. The claim against the school district says that within hours the video had gone viral on SnapChat and Vine.
“It went viral. It went beyond his school. It went to other schools in California. Kids in the neighborhood who didn’t go to Matthew’s school had heard about it and seen the video that was taken of him,” his aunt, Laura Burdette Mechak told WPTV.
Matthew was devastated.
His lawyer told QPTV that the cyber bullying destroyed him.
“Kids saw this video and began to tease Matthew mercilessly — they teased him, they harassed him. They made his life miserable over a two-week period,” said Allison Worden of Gomez Trial Attorneys.
It was after those two weeks of bullying that Matthew took his life. Matthew Burdette died in November 2013 while on a Thanksgiving holiday with his parents.
His mother found his body and a note Matthew left saying he “couldn’t handle school anymore”.
The lawsuit claims that at least one school or district employee was aware their son was being bullied but did nothing to stop it, KGTV-TV has reported
“Matthew’s once positive and outgoing personality was now wrought with insecurity and depression,” the lawsuit adds.
In response the school said in a statement on Monday:
“At San Diego Unified, the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority. The district also adheres to the privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations related to students, families and ongoing investigations.”
The boy who took the video has now been arrested and could be charged under California’s anti-bullying laws but for the family of Matthew that isn’t where their grievances lie.
His Aunt told WPTV “I don’t have hatred for the kid who took this video. He was a dumb kid who did a dumb thing. But these kids don’t get it. They don’t realize how big the cyber bullying world is.”
If you need help with Cyber-bullying or any other issue you can contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
Or Lifeline on 13 11 14
The National Centre Against Bullying provides more resources.