Probe launched into bullying linked to teen's suicide
Police and the BC Coroners Service have launched an investigation into the death of a fifteen-year-old girl who posted a heartbreaking YouTube video about being bullied a month before taking her own life.
The coroner's office promised the investigation into 15-year-old Amanda Todd’s death will be complex and comprehensive and will include recommendations to stop similar tragedies.
Coroner Barb McLintock said issues ranging from school and mental health support to cyber and social media bullying must be explored.
Mounties said Friday they are conducting interviews and reviewing any potential contributing factors to her death.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen said while police are not yet commenting on the role bullying may have played in Todd’s death, they are actively reviewing and monitoring social media.
Todd posted a YouTube video in September that told the story of how she was bullied for years, beginning when a boy sent a topless picture of her to other students at her school and posted it on Facebook.
“They would constantly tease her,” said Todd’s friend Kaylie Dickens. “Tell her she should kill herself. That she's not wanted. Nobody likes her. She changed schools to get away from them. But the bullies always found her.”
The bullying continued online and in person, causing Todd to have severe anxiety and depression and turn to alcohol and drugs.
She appeared to have posted the video as a cry for help, leaving mourners to wonder why more wasn’t done for the troubled teen.
Todd was found dead Wednesday in her Port Coquitlam home.
The Coquitlam School District said they are deeply saddened by Todd’s death, but bullying is a complex problem that is hard to stop.
“The district was aware of this video prior to last night and there were supports in place for this student both at the school and community levels,” Cheryl Quinton from the Coquitlam School District said.
“It's not a simplistic answer -- how you stop bullying,” Quinton said. “The social media now has added a whole new dimension."
A cyberbullying expert from the University of British Columbia said a lack of research into the topic means educators may not fully understand how to combat it.
“The long reaching tentacles of the internet makes the bullying much more broad reaching,” cyberbullying expert Jen Sharpa said.
Sharpa said the impacts of cyberbullying can be devastating and emotionally damaging.
Todd’s video tells the haunting story of how harmful online bullying can be. In the video she reveals she tried to kill herself by drinking bleach after teens at school beat her up.
Thousands of people took to Twitter and Facebook to express sadness and outrage over the teen’s bullying and suicide. A memorial Facebook page has more than 25,000 Likes and #RIPAmanda was trending on Twitter Thursday.
Todd’s friends are encouraging people to wear blue on Monday to honour her memory, and hope her legacy will mean an end to bullying.
“It's sad that… the world starts listening when someone's already dead,” Todd’s friend Lara Fraser said.
Coquitlam Serious Crime investigators are asking people with information related to the investigation to share it via email.
Investigators are asking the public to share a description of the pertinent information, their name and contact information at email@example.com.
With files from the Canadian Press