Port Coquitlam teen driven to death by cyberbullying (with video) Her legacy is an online video in which she documents her personal hell
Port Coquitlam teen driven to death by cyberbullying (with video)
Her legacy is an online video in which she documents her personal hell
A Vancouver area teen who told a heart-breaking story in a YouTube video of cyberbullying that led to an all-out schoolyard attack has apparently committed suicide. In stories and posts flooding Vancouver's social media networks, #RIPAmanda is trending as people post news and condolences for the teen identified as posting the video, Amanda Todd. Video courtesy: Skybrite, ebaumsworld.com
The mother of a teenager who died Wednesday of suspected suicide wants her daughter’s anti-cyber-bullying video to be used to help other young people.
Fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd was found dead in a Port Coquitlam home at 6 p.m. Wednesday, five weeks after she posted a heartbreaking video on YouTube detailing how she was harassed online and bullied.
“I think the video should be shared and used as an anti-bullying tool. That is what my daughter would have wanted,” Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, told The Vancouver Sun in a message on Twitter.
In September, Amanda posted a video to YouTube entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self harm.
In it Amanda does not speak, but instead holds up to the camera pieces of paper on which she has printed her story, one phrase at a time. She documents a painful tale of being harassed through Facebook and shunned at school, leaving her feeling alone and suicidal.
It started in Grade 8, when an embarrassing photo was circulated to her relatives, friends and schoolmates. Amanda switched schools, but the bullying continued.
“I can never get that photo back,” she writes.
Later, she was confronted by a group of teens in front of her new school and beaten up, an attack that was filmed. Despondent, Amanda went home and drank bleach.
Her harassers posted photos of bleach and commented that they wished she was dead.
Near the end of the video, she writes: “Every day I think why am I still here? ... I have nobody. I need someone.”
In a message accompanying the video post, Amanda added: “I’m not doing this (video) for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong.”
Premier Christy Clark posted a short video on YouTube Thursday sending her sympathies to Amanda’s family.
“I want to say to everyone who loved her, to all her family and friends, how sorry I am about her loss,” Clark — who spearheaded a ‘Pink Shirt Day’ anti-bullying campaign while she was a radio host — says in the video.
“No one deserves to be bullied. No one earns it. No one asks for it. It isn’t a rite of passage.
“Bullying has to stop.”
In 2008, the B.C. government declared an annual anti-bullying day, and Clark has advanced anti-bullying initiatives since becoming premier.
Amanda was a former cheerleader with the Vancouver All Stars squad based in her hometown of Port Coquitlam. She attended school there until the middle of Grade 8, when she moved to a Maple Ridge school. In February, she transferred to Coquitlam Alternate Basic Education (CABE) in Coquitlam.
Students and staff at Amanda’s school were grieving her death Thursday.
“It is a very sad case,” said Paul McNaughton, principal of CABE, where Amanda was in Grade 10.
“She was quite connected here. The staff and the students here are very much impacted. She had some very strong ties in the school and to staff in the school.
“I can tell you we feel we tried everything we could to help her when she came to us.”
In her video, Amanda says she moved schools in a futile attempt to escape her bullies.
Spokeswomen for the Maple Ridge and Coquitlam school districts would not discuss the case directly, but both said their districts take action when they receive bullying complaints.
Grief counsellors were speaking to students in both districts Thursday.
Dr. Tyler Black, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at B.C. Children’s Hospital, said the reasons people commit suicide are often very complex. He urged parents, educators and youth at risk of suicide to realize there is help through options such as www.youthinbc.com or 1-800-SUICIDE.
“The message is there are professionals there, there are people out there who can help.”
On a positive note, Black added, suicide among youth aged 10 to 24 dropped 25 per cent from 2000 to 2009.
Amanda joined YouTube on Sept. 6 and posted her video Sept. 7.
On Sept. 7, Amanda also uploaded a slide-show presentation called Cyber Bullying on Prezi.com, in which she gives advice on how to deal with such harassment.
In what could turn out to be her own very sad legacy, Amanda urged people to stand up to bullies and help victims:
“If you see that someone is being bullied, don’t be afraid to tell the bully to stop doing what they are doing. Make sure to tell them that it’s wrong and that they shouldn’t bully other kids.”
Amanda told parents “to always give your child emotional support” and to help them if they are being bullied.
B.C.’s education ministry announced last month that it will spend $2 million on a strategy called ERASE Bullying. The strategy includes a confidential online bullying reporting service that will allow students, school staff, parents and members of the public to make anonymous reports about potential or actual cases of school bullying and violence.
The Amanda Michelle Todd memorial Facebook page, created Wednesday morning, had more than 11,000 people “liking it” by early evening. Hundreds of people were also posting comments on the site.
“My thoughts and prayers go to her family, I cannot even begin to imagine what they are going through. High school is supposed to be the best time of your life, not one where you fear for yourself every day. No one should have to feel the way she did,” wrote Breanna Lockhart Collins. “She was a beautiful young girl who went way too soon.”
In a post on its Facebook page, G Force Gym — home of the Vancouver All Stars cheerleaders — wrote:
“Today we feel the loss of our former VAS family member Amanda ... I ask that we all watch her video and share her story so that her loss is not in vain. Allow this to be her legacy ... Allow us all to look around & find the next Amanda before another precious spunky teenager is lost.”
Amanda’s video echoed another similar online story entitled My Story: Suicide and Bullying, which had been uploaded by Mollydoyle18 on YouTube. Commenting on Amanda’s video, Molly posted Wednesday:
“Rest in peace and fly high to Amanda Todd. I was just messaging her about almost a week ago, and I just found out that she has taken her life. She was asking me about how to be an inspiration to others and to get her video more views, and now I have found out that she has passed away ... This is a terrible tragedy. I wish she could have had her happy ending.
With files from Mike Hager