Cyberbullying in 2016 continues to claim teen lives
Although bullycides are no longer front-page news, they continue to occur around the world. Here is a sample of a few 2016 tragedies.
Britney Mazzoncini of Glasgow, Scotland, had been bullied at school and online for a long time. She wrote about it including a message to her tormenters: “Starting to get sick of wee lassies calling me a riddy and this and that. . . .If you have a problem with me then delete me and if you’re being cheeky then you will just be blocked.” Britney overdosed on anti-anxiety pills in July, 2016. She planned on becoming a police officer. Britney was 16.
Felix Alexander was 17 when he ended his life in Worcester, England. His mother bravely wrote a letter calling on people to do more to prevent further loss of our youth. She commented that Felix had to endure online bullying by people who he had never even met. “His confidence and self-esteem had been eroded over a long period of time. . . . It began with unkindness and social isolation and the cruel abuse became overwhelming.” Felix placed himself in front of a train in April, 2016.
Cecci Porter was a 17-year-old senior at Westside High School in Dayton, Idaho. Reportedly, someone set up a Facebook account under a false name. Cecci’s father said that she was “viciously harassed” online, stating that “They just said terrible, graphic things about her and told her to kill herself.” Her parents arranged for counseling and limited her phone time. Cecci had nine brothers and sisters, and was active in sports at school. Her dad commented that she had a “big spirit and a big heart.” Cecci took her own life in February, 2016.
Kyana Vergara was described by her school principal at Ross Intermediate in New Zealand as a “wonderful student who was involved in a wide range of school activities, had many friends and was well-respected in her class.” Yet, the 12 year-old didn’t share everything with her family and friends. Her older sister, Aundrea, explained that “Unfortunately my baby sister had a secret she wouldn’t tell anyone and that was that she was being bullied.” Kyana took her life at home in January, 2016.
David Molak was a 16 year-old sophomore in Texas when the bullying on Instagram started. Some of the messages included “We’re going to put him six feet under,” and we’re “going to put him in a body bag.” David’s brother, Cliff, believes the bullies didn’t like his new relationship with a popular girl at school, and he was bullied over his physical appearance. His parents moved him to a private school, but the bullying followed him online. His brother commented that the night before he died, David received more bullying text messages. Cliff posted on Facebook that David “stared off into the distance for what seemed like an hour. I could feel his pain. It was a tangible pain.” David hanged himself on January 4, 2016.
Brandy Vela, age 18 and a high school senior in Texas City, Texas, shot herself in the chest on November 29, 2016 in her bedroom. She was taken to the hospital and passed away shortly thereafter. She had been bullied on social media for over a year with fake pages, sexual comments and criticisms regarding her weight. Brandy sent an email to her family about her plans. They rushed home and found her alive, but couldn’t convince her to put the gun down. In March, 2017, two people were arrested in Texas and charged with crimes related to Brandy’s death including stalking and online impersonation. Andres Arturo Villagomez, age 21, and Karinthya Sanchez Romero, age 22 are Brandy’s ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
Keep in mind what Ellen says at the end of each show: “Be kind to each other.” Kindness can mean a great deal to a friend or stranger. And it’s free!!
Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw (Flickr)