After documenting a heart-breaking story about cyber-bullying on a video posted to YouTube last month, 15-year-old Amanda Todd was found dead Wednesday night in Coquitlam.
Her tragic death – a suspected suicide – has prompted many to speak out about the dangers of bullying, especially in the age of social media.
Premier Christy Clark posted a short video on YouTube today sending her sympathies to Amanda’s family.
“I just heard about Amanda. I want to say to everyone who loved her, to all her family and friends, how sorry I am about her loss,” Clark says on the video.
“No one deserves to be bullied. No one earns it. No one asks for it. It isn’t a rite of passage. Bullying has to stop.”
Click here to see more photos of Amanda Todd
Amanda was a Grade 10 student at an alternative high school in Coquitlam called CABE (Coquitlam Basic Alternative Education), which has approximately 200 students in Grades 10 to 12.
Principal Paul McNaughton said the students and staff at the school are grieving today. He said Amanda, who joined the school halfway through the last school year and came back to start Grade 10 in September, had friends at CABE.
“It is a very sad case,” he said. “I can tell you we feel we tried everything we could to help her when she came to us.
“She was quite connected here. The staff and the students here are very much impacted. She had some very strong ties in the school and to staff in the school.
“The whole thing has been pretty hard.”
In the YouTube video, Amanda does not speak but instead holds up to the camera white pieces of paper on which her story is told, one phrase at a time. She documented a painful story of being harassed online and being shunned at school, leaving her feeling alone in the world.
In a message accompanying the video post, she added: “I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although im sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I ?”
YouTube today pulled the video, posting a short explanation that is was removed because it violates YouTube’s terms of service.
The school district sent grief counsellors to CABE — which helps students who are having difficulty in other schools for a variety of reasons — to speak with students and staff.
District spokeswoman Cheryl Quinton said Coquitlam has many anti-bullying programs in its schools, and noted the issue is becoming even more challenging because of social media.
“Bullying . . . is an issue of prime concern for the school district,” she said.
Amanda had previously gone to school in Maple Ridge but had changed schools and was living in Coquitlam.
In the YouTube video, Todd told of living with her father, who she said rescued her when she was lying in a ditch after being beaten by a number of students. She said then moved to another school — it was CABE she was referring to — and was with her mom.
McNaughton said the family doesn’t want to talk to the media.
“We’re respecting their wishes,” he said.
Amanda joined YouTube on September 6 and posted her video Sept. 7.
On Sept. 7, Amanda also uploaded a presentation Cybre Bullying on Prezi in which she explains what cyberbullying is and gives advice on dealing with it.
In what could turn out to be her own very sad legacy, Amanda urged people to stand up to bullies and to help their victims:
“If you see that someone is being bullied, don’t be afraid to tell the bully to stop doing what they are doing. Make sure to tell them that it’s wrong and that they shouldn’t bully other kids.”
To parents, Amanda urged them “to always give your child emotional support” and help them if they are being bullied.
The Amanda Michelle Todd memorial Facebook page, posted early this morning, already has more than 4,000 people “liking” it.
Many people were also posting comments on the site.
“RIP. my thoughts and prayers go to her family, I cannot even begin to imagine what they are going through. High school is supposed to be the best time of your life, not one where you fear for yourself every day. No one should have to feel the way she did. What is wrong with people, why do they feel the need to bully someone to their death? She was a beautiful young girl who went way too soon,” wrote Breanna Lockhart Collins.
In a post on its Facebook page, G Force Gym, Home of the Vancouver All Stars cheerleaders, wrote:
“Today we feel the loss of our former VAS family member Amanda . . . 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 & find the next Amanda before another precious spunky teenager is lost.”
Amanda’s video echoed another similar online tale entitled My Story: Suicide and Bullying, which was uploaded by Mollydoyle18 on YouTube. It was clear from the comments that Amanda wanted to contact Molly in a private message and apparently had reached her.
Commenting on Amanda’s video, Molly wrote today:
“Rest in peace and fly high to Amanda Todd. I was just messaging her about almost a week ago, and I just found out that she has taken her life. She was asking me about how to be an inspiration to others and to get her video more views, and now I have found out that she has passed away . . . This is a terrible tragedy. I wish she could have had her happy ending.”
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Vancouver+area+teen+commits+suicide+after+telling+story+being+cyberbullied+with+video/7375941/story.html#ixzz292UC7KfB