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Online awareness follows Amanda Todd's suicide 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Amanda Todd, 15, details in a YouTube video how bullying on the Internet and at school became too much for her to handle alone. She killed herself in Coquitlam. B.C., on Oct. 10. (SCREEN GRAB)

Amanda Todd, 15, details in a YouTube video how bullying on the Internet and at school became too much for her to handle alone. She killed herself in Coquitlam. B.C., on Oct. 10. (SCREEN GRAB)

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Amanda Todd tried to make her bullies understand why she needed help and support.

The torment that followed personal photos of her being distributed online ended up being too much for the Coquitlam teen who took her life Wednesday.

She had switched schools thrice to escape, and reached out last month through a YouTube video, expressing confusion at why her detractors insisted on tracking her online.

“Why do I get this? I messed up, but why follow me,” the teen wrote on cards, which she arranged in messages in a lengthy online video.

In Grade 7, her distress began when she made the mistake to “flash” her breasts on a webcam. A threat was then sent to her on Facebook from a stranger, saying, “If you don’t put on a show,” those images would be sent to everyone she knew.

“He knew my address, school, relatives, friends, family names,” she wrote, adding police notified her images were distributed that Christmas break.”

She lost all her friends and respect. She sat at lunch alone. When she thought she found a boy she liked, it just got worse. His girlfriend confronted her outside a new school with 15 others. She was attacked.

“The girl and two others just said, ‘Look around, nobody likes you,’” Todd wrote. “A guy then just yelled, ‘Just punch her already.’ So she did … she threw me to the ground and punched me several times.

“Kids filmed it. I was all alone and left on the ground. I felt like a joke in this world.”

Her father found her later that day lying in a ditch. When he took her home, she drank bleach and was hospitalized, but “nobody cared,” she wrote.

University of B.C. professor Jennifer Shapka, a bullying expert, said it seems Todd tried every way possible to get help. It was clear from her video she was already attending counselling, had the support of her parents, and teachers were aware of the bullying.

“Hopefully this will be a wakeup call that in B.C., bullying is a real problem,” she said. “The way to combat this has to be with youth themselves. We need to harness the youth voice in the venue where this is happening.”

On social media and blogs, those who knew Todd expressed their outrage and shared her video.

“You see this girl right here? Yesterday she took her own life due to bullying,” wrote one blogger. “This was my friend, someone’s daughter, someone’s cousin, and she was loved by many.”

Premier Christy Clark posted her own online video in response to Todd’s death.

“Bullying has to stop. Every child, every one, needs to be able to feel safe at school,” she said.

“When we send our kids to school we need to know that they are going to come home safe.”

Mounties didn’t respond for comment on whether they investigated the distributed pictures.

Cutline: Amanda Todd, 15, details in a YouTube video how bullying on the Internet and at school became too much for her to handle alone. She killed herself in Coquitlam Wednesday.

 

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