Seven Year List of Eleven Prominent Cyberbullying Suicides
The following list is not intended to be morbid. Even a list of one is too long and should serve to remind us why we are investing time in educating ourselves to find ways to combat cyberbullying. Each one was a tragedy of a young life ending prematurely. While the list makes for grim reading, it is intended as an aid to researchers, educators, policymakers and other stakeholders who need to come up to speed on cyberbullying. Hopefully, our collective efforts will be effective to keep fewer names from being added in the future.
Note: While we are not suggesting that cyberbullying was the only motive for these suicides, in each of the cases cyberbullying and/or sexting or some form of digital harrassment or embarassment appears to have played a role. It may not be an all-inclusive list it primarily includes only cases in the U.S. and U.K. that have received media attention. It also does not include traditional bullying related suicides which we will endeavor to provide at another time.
If you are aware of other cases, please let us know at info(at)cyberbullyingnews.com
|Date of Suicide||Name||Age||School, Town, State||Details|
|March 21, 2010||Alexis Pilkington||17||West Islip High School,West Islip, Suffolk County||Father, Thomas Pilkington, said his daughter dealt with insulting comments in the days before her suicide, but he does not blame those postings for her actions (see Huffington Post). Trolling occurred after her death on anonymous posting sites.|
|January 14, 2010||Phoebe Prince||15||South Hadley High School, South Hadley, Massachusetts||Hanged herself as a result of bullying and receiving threatening text messages. Six students face different mix of felony charges that include statutory rape, violation of civil rights with bodily injury, harassment, stalking, and disturbing a school assembly. Eckholm and Zezima write about this in the New York Times.|
|September 16, 2009||Holly Grogan||15||St. Edward’s School, Cheltenham, UK||Jumped 30 feet to her death from a road bridge, and was hit by passing traffic. Her parents blamed her suicide on the “huge pressure and modern complexities of social networking sites” (see timesonline article).|
|September 12, 2009||Hope Witsell||13||Beth Shields Middle SchoolFlorida||Hanged herself from the canopy of her bed, related to sexting: sent a partial nude photo of herself to a boyfriend. The photo was intercepted by another student using the boy’s cell phone and the photo spread to other schools (see Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, page 91).|
|July, 2009||Jesse Logan||18||Sycamore High School, Ohio||Hanged herself. Her ex-boyfriend sent nude photos of Jesse to other high school girls who then harassed her, calling her a slut and a whore.Her mother said that officials at Jesse’s school “were aware of the harassment but did not take sufficient action to stop it” (see msnbc article).|
|January 19, 2009||Megan Gillan||15||Macclesfield High,Macclesfield, UK||Took a fatal overdose of painkillers after classmates used the social networking site Bebo in a bullying campaign against her (see Telegraph article).|
|June 5, 2008||Sam Leeson||13||Severn Vale School, Gloucester, UK||Hanged himself in his bedroom. He was bullied on the social networking site Bebo, for his interest in “Emo” music, which is popular with many children who feel left out of the mainstream (see Telegraph article).|
|October 16, 2006||Megan Meier||13||Immaculate Conception School, Missouri||Hanged herself with a belt in her bedroom closet and died the next day. Ex-friends mother posed on internet as fictitious boyfriend first flirting with her, then telling her the world would be a better place without her in it. Megans last message indicated that he was the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over. May 2008 grand jury charged the ex-friends mother with conspiracy, fraudulent use of the Internet and providing false information. (See Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, pages 157-160.)|
|October 9, 2006||Rachael Neblett||17||Bullitt East High School, Kentucky||Received threatening emails, such as “I am not going to put you in the hospital, I am going to put you in the morgue” (see Makeadifferenceforkids.org).|
|June 29, 2005||Jeffrey Johnston||15||Florida||Was bullied online for three years before taking his own life. His mother worked to get the Florida legislature to pass a tough anti-bullying law named in honor of her son. (See Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, page 164).|
|October 7, 2003||Ryan Patrick Halligan||13||Albert D. Lawton Middle School, Essex Junction,Vermont||Hanged himself in the bathroom.Started being bullied at age 11. Befriended the boy who bullied him, but the bully turned on him by spreading online rumors that Ryan was gay. At age 13, Ryan instant messaged a girl he had a crush on, but in front of her friends she told him he was a loser and she did not want anything to do with him. She said she was only joking online. Ryan’s father says he does not blame “Ryan’s suicide on one single person or one single event” but “believes [his] son would have survived these incidents of bullying and humiliation if they took place before computers and the Internet” (see ryanpatrickhalligan.org).|