I’m starting to think that social media kills more kids annually than loaded handguns. We have another case where online bullying led to a teen’s suicide, and I know that whenever I report on a story like this one of the most common reader’s comments is “This kid was obviously troubled to begin with. A normal, healthy kid doesn’t commit suicide over being called ugly or a slut over the Internet.” But my answer to that is normal, healthy kids don’t call other kids sluts or ugly on the Internet. If a kid is lonely, and let’s face it, that is one of the side-effects of being a teenager, they want to reach out to others in order to alleviate that loneliness or connect with their peers or be reassured they aren’t ugly, and if all they are met with is insults and suggestions to kill themselves, I can see where it would bring a kid down. From WPTV:
Pasco County authorities say a 16-year-old Hudson girl took her own life Sunday night. Friends of the Jessica Laney say bullying through social media played a major role.
An investigation into her suicide is underway.
Laney lived in Hudson, where friends say she attended Fivay High School and played soccer.
But when she was off the field, she spent time online, maintaining blogs on popular social network site Tumblr, and Ask.fm, a site where people could ask questions and make comments anonymously.
Valerie Canales, who calls Laney a friend, said people used the Ask.fm format to bully the victim.
If you take a look at Laney’s Ask.fm page, Jessicamarieee1, some of the anonymous questions asked are innocent enough, talking about boys, and even comments praising her beauty.
But her page is also peppered with disparaging comments, calling her fat and a loser.
One visitor asked her, “Can you kill yourself already?” and another commented “nobody even cares about you”.
Jessica Laney’s friends are blaming the social media site, Ask.fm, for contributing to Laney’s suicide. Valerie Canales, a friend of the victim’s wrote:
“…last night, my friend Jessica Laney took her life. She was constantly bullied and bullied. And she was pushed and pushed to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore. And if you could spread the word about the website ask.fm, & how it needs to be shut down, that would be amazing too. Ask.fm is a website where people can ask anonymous questions to anyone they want. And thats how Jessica was constantly put down and bullied. She was a beautiful girl & everyone loved her. Shes gonna be missed. We have to put an end to bullying. Please help…” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Laney’s Ask.fm page is heartbreaking, and incredibly difficult to read knowing that this girl is now dead. It is peppered with the typical “whore” and “slut” comments, as well as suggestions that she kill herself and replies from Jessica herself.
I know we talk about bullying with our kids, how not to put others down and how to reach out to kids sitting or playing alone, but we need to pay just as much attention to telling our kids that if they are considering joining social media websites they are putting themselves at risk for anonymous assholes to insult and berate them. I’m going to start telling my own kids that using social media is something I don’t want them engaging in until they are much older, just like drinking.
Officials say Laney hung herself. She was pronounced dead at 11:26 p.m. Sunday night.