A Maple Ridge teen who committed suicide on Wednesday was likely the victim of a years-long campaign of bullying and harassment on the Internet and in real life.
Last month, a girl identifying herself as Amanda Todd posted a video on Youtube called, “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm.”
In the video, Todd describes how she was bullied online and at school, about her struggles with drugs and alcohol and harming herself. She also describes and incident where she was attacked and taunted at school.
Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed Todd, 15, died Wednesday in Coquitlam. Her death is being investigated by Coquitlam RCMP as a “sudden death,” as is typical in cases of suicide, and no details have yet been released.
According to police, Todd spent most of her life in Maple Ridge, but moved to Coquitlam to attend school.
In her video, Todd uses white hand-written placards to tell the story of how she was harassed by a stranger on the Internet, while Sarah McLachlan’s I Will Remember You plays in the background.
She describes how in the seventh grade she used a friend’s webcam to talk to people on the Internet, and was convinced to show someone online a revealing image of herself.
“[They] called me stunning, beautiful, perfect, etc.,” she states in the video. “[They] wanted me to flash … so I did.”
That person then threatened to share the image with Amanda’s friends and family unless she provided them with more revealing photos.
When Todd refused, she says the stranger sent the photo to her friends.
“I can never get that photo back, it’s out there forever,” Todd’s placard reads.
She then describes moving to a new city and a new school to escape her embarrassment, only to become the victim of bullying there by the girlfriend of a boy she was involved with.
“She threw me to the ground a punched me several times. Kids filmed it. I was all alone and left on the ground,” she states. “I felt like a joke in this world.”
After the fight, Todd said she tried to drink bleach.
“After I got home, all I saw on Facebook was, she deserved it … I hope she’s dead,” she states in the video. “They said I hope she sees this and kills herself.”
Amanda describes using drugs and alcohol, and cutting herself.
“I have no one,” her placard reads at the end of the video. “I need someone.”
The Coquitlam school district has stated it was aware of the video, and provided support to a Grade 10 student at Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education, a school district spokesperson confirmed.
However, the district can’t name the student, how long she attended CABE, what supports she received, what other schools she may have attended or how she died, citing privacy issues.
“We were aware previously of the video, and regarding supports … supports were in place for the student,” said School District 43 spokesperson Cheryl Quinton.
She added that the district expresses its condolences to the family and the school community. Grief counsellors were deployed to the school on Thursday and will stay as long as needed, she said.
Although Quinton was unable to confirm the details surrounding the girl’s death, she said combatting bullying on social media is a challenge.
Todd was previously a student in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District, but district staff are not saying where she attended school, citing privacy legislation.
“The Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows School District was advised of Amanda Todd’s passing this morning, and extends its deepest and most sincere condolences to her family and friends,” said a school district spokesperson Thursday afternoon. “Our focus now is on providing support to our students and school community during this difficult time.”
A Facebook page called “Rest in Peace Amanda Todd” was created Wednesday, and now has dozens of posts offering condolences.
“RIP Amanda, now nobody can hurt you ever again. On the same note, we are sad, because the ones that loved you can never hug or kiss you again. Thank you for leaving such a powerful message behind, even though it wasn’t on time to help you, hoping it can help others out there. RIP,” reads one comment.
On Twitter, a young man wrote: “It makes me sick everyone who’s saying they didn’t bully her when they did. Just terrible.”
One Youtube poster has started an online campaign to share Todd’s video in order to raise awareness about cyberbullying, and is encouraging Twitter users to use the #RIPAmandaTodd hashtag in her memory.
“One of my sister’s friends just committed suicide six hours ago,” states Youtube user “CODGamePlay” in a reposted version of Todd’s original video online. “One month ago she talked about how she was almost pushed to the brink of suicide, and today she committed suicide.
“I want this to go viral as i do not want her to be forgotten and I want her voice to be heard.”
Todd was formerly a member of the G Force Gym Vancouver All Stars cheerleading school in Port Coquitlam.
“Today we feel the loss of our former [Vancouver All-Star] family member Amanda,” states a post on the gym’s Facebook page. “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 and find the next Amanda before another precious spunky teenager is lost.”