Suicide of Amanda Todd

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Suicide of Amanda Todd
Amanda Todd - 01.jpg
LocationPort Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
CauseSuicide by hanging
InquestBritish Columbia Coroners Service
CoronerBarb McLintock[1]
 
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Suicide of Amanda Todd
Amanda Todd - 01.jpg
LocationPort Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
CauseSuicide by hanging
InquestBritish Columbia Coroners Service
CoronerBarb McLintock[1]

Amanda Michelle Todd (November 27, 1996 – October 10, 2012)[2][3] committed suicide at the age of 15 at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to her death, Todd had posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell her experience of being blackmailed, bullied and physically assaulted. The video went viral after her death,[4] resulting in international media attention. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and British Columbia Coroners Service launched investigations into the suicide.

At the time of her death, Todd was a grade 10 student[5] at CABE Secondary in Coquitlam,[6] a school that caters to students who have experienced social and behavior issues in previous educational settings.[7]

In response to the death, Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia, made an online statement of condolence and suggested a national discussion on criminalizing cyberbullying.[8][9] Also, a motion was introduced in the Canadian House of Commons to propose a study of the scope of bullying in Canada, and for more funding and support for anti-bullying organizations. Todd's mother Carol established the Amanda Todd Trust, receiving donations to support anti-bullying awareness education and programs for young people with mental health problems.

Background and suicide

On September 7, 2012, Todd posted a 9-minute YouTube video entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm, which showed her using a series of flash cards to tell of her experiences being bullied. The video post went viral after her death on October 10, 2012, receiving over 1,600,000 views by October 13, 2012,[10] with news websites from around the world linking to it.[citation needed]

Screenshot of Todd's YouTube video

During the video, Todd writes that when she was in grade 7 (2009-2010), around the same time she moved in with her father,[11] she used video chat to meet new people over the Internet and she received compliments on her looks. A stranger convinced Todd to bare her breasts on camera. The individual later blackmailed her with threats to expose the topless photo to her friends unless she gave a "show".[12]

After two years, Todd returned to live with her mother in March 2012.[11] Todd wrote that during the next Christmas break,[when?] police informed her at 4:00 a.m. that the photo was circulating on the Internet. Todd wrote that she experienced anxiety, depression, and panic disorder due to the experience. Her family moved to a new home, where Todd later stated that she began using drugs and alcohol.[12]

A year later, the individual reappeared, creating a Facebook profile which used the topless photograph as the profile image, and contacting classmates at her new school. Again Todd was teased, eventually changing schools for a second time. She wrote that she began chatting to "an old guy friend" who contacted her. The friend invited Todd to his house, where they had sex while his girlfriend was on holiday.[13] The following week, the girlfriend and a group of others physically attacked Todd at school, shouting insults and punching her to the ground. Following the attack, Todd attempted suicide by drinking bleach, but she survived after being rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped.[12] "It killed me inside and I thought I actually was going to die", Todd commented in her video.[1]

After returning home, Todd discovered abusive messages about her failed suicide attempt posted to Facebook. Her family moved to another city to start afresh, but Todd was unable to escape the past. According to her mother, "Every time she moved schools he would go undercover and become a Facebook friend. What the guy did was he went online to the kids who went to (the new school) and said that he was going to be a new student — that he was starting school the following week and that he wanted some friends and could they friend him on Facebook. He eventually gathered people's names and sent Todd's video to her new school", including students, teachers, and parents.[14] Six months later, further messages and abuse were still being posted to social networking sites. Todd's mental state worsening, she began to engage in self-mutilation. Despite taking her prescribed anti-depressants and receiving counseling, she overdosed and was hospitalized for two days.[15]

Todd was teased by other students at her school for her low grades, a consequence of a language-based learning disability and for the time she spent in hospital to treat her severe depression.[11] "It didn't really help that after she got out of the hospital recently some kids started calling her 'psycho' and saying she had been in the crazy hospital", her mother said. "She went to the hospital, she had therapy, she had counselling, she was on a good track. On the day she gets out, that happens. I shake my head and I think, 'Are kids really that nasty, do they really not think, what if it was them?'"[11]

On October 10, 2012, at about 6:00 PM (PDT), Todd was found hanged at her home.[16][17]

Investigation and Arrest

A preliminary investigation by British Columbia Coroners Service showed that Todd's death was a suicide. The cause of death was reported in the media as hanging.[18][19][20]

Both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and British Columbia Coroners Service launched an investigation with twenty full-time investigators working on the case.[10] The Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows serious crime teams are cooperating in a full investigation, conducting interviews and examining potential factors that may have contributed to Todd's death.[21] Investigators are reviewing content at social media sites and are actively monitoring pages.[21]

The Canadian national organization Cybertip.ca reported having received a tip about Todd nearly one year before her suicide. The anti-child-exploitation group stated that, in November 2011, a concerned citizen reported that images of Todd were in circulation on the Internet. That information was provided to law enforcement as well as child welfare agencies.[22] According to the CBC news program, The Fifth Estate, the RCMP were contacted repeatedly that the juvenile was being sexually extorted by an adult male, and in response the RCMP told the family there was "nothing that could be done" about it.[23] According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), however, the crime of "sextortion" is investigated quite successfully.

In April 2014, it was revealed that Dutch police had arrested a man accused of committing the Internet harrassment and bullying of Amanda Todd. [24]

Reaction

Todd's suicide received widespread international media coverage, much of which included a link to Todd's YouTube video and an e-mail address provided by the RCMP appealing for information from the public. Within twenty-four hours of the appeal, over 400 tips were received.[10] The RCMP has stated that its investigation was hindered by the amount of false information in online postings after Todd's death, and scams claiming to raise money for her family.[25]

On October 19, 2012, a series of vigils was held across Canada and internationally to remember Todd and other victims of bullying.[26] A minute of silence was observed by a quarter of a million students in the Toronto District School Board district.[27] On that same date, Todd's mother was a guest of the 2012 We Day event in Vancouver, a week after Todd's death. Bullying had been scheduled as a topic prior to Todd's death and was addressed by speakers Magic Johnson, musician and anti-bullying advocate Demi Lovato and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark.[28]

Initially, Amanda Todd's mother was denied entry to an anti-bullying conference for fear that it would upset other attendees.[29] The family was invited to attend later events.[30]

On November 18, 2012, 600 people gathered at a final farewell ceremony for Todd at Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam, near her home. Todd's mother Carol told the gathering that her daughter has left behind "a larger-than-life message that has sparked the world and has made it open its eyes, its ears and its hearts".[31]

Internet hacking and activist group Anonymous alleged that a 32-year-old man was Todd's blackmailer and main tormentor. The group published the Vancouver-area man's name and address on the Internet, resulting in the man's receipt of online threats of vigilante justice.[22] After investigating the tip, police determined that the allegations were unfounded, and said that "false information that is being spread by people who appear to be trying to use Amanda’s story to do harm or make a profit" was one of the challenges they faced.[32]

According to an interview with the Vancouver Sun, the publication of his identity on social media sites resulted in over fifty e-mails and "thousands" of Facebook death threats.[32] A member of Anonymous had attempted to dissuade the group from publishing the information, saying that they had the right person, but that the address being published belonged to someone else, not the target. Slate reported that the person who was actually responsible turned out to be 19 rather than 32.[33][34]

Social media

Following Todd's suicide, more than one million Facebook users "liked" her Facebook memorial page.[10][35] Mingled among the positive support and comments are continuing attack posts and images from strangers and those claiming to be her former classmates.[10] After one man's derogatory Facebook comments about Todd's death were reported to his employer, the Grafton-Fraser Mr. Big & Tall clothing chain confirmed that he was no longer an employee.[36][37]

On October 19, 2012, police in New Zealand said they were questioning a 17-year-old boy from Raglan who allegedly posted "inappropriate and disturbing images" on a memorial page for Todd. Police removed the images and shut down the boy's Facebook page.[38]

Amanda Todd Trust

Todd's mother Carol has established the Amanda Todd Trust at the Royal Bank of Canada, receiving donations to support anti-bullying awareness education and programs for young people with mental health problems.[39] A week after Todd's death, ABC News reported that fraudulent websites had been set up claiming to solicit donations, quoting a statement by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Peter Thiessen: "Taking advantage of a family's grief is despicable... We want to get the word out that there is one real account and anyone who is interested can make a donation at any RBC branch to the Amanda Todd Trust Account."[40]

Parliamentary motion

In response to the death of Todd, a motion was introduced in the Canadian House of Commons by member of parliament Dany Morin of the New Democratic Party. The motion proposed a study of the scope of bullying in Canada, and for more funding and support for anti-bullying organizations. It was also intended to lay the groundwork for a national strategy to prevent bullying. Morin had also experienced bullying while in school.[41]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Canadian teen found dead weeks after posting wrenching YouTube video detailing bullying". Fox News. October 12, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ Cahute, Larissa. "Amanda Todd: Hundreds hear tributes from family, friends, teachers". The province. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Amanda Todd celebrated in 'the birthday party she wanted'". The Tri-City News. July 14, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Amanda Todd tribute honours life of bullied teen". News (Calgary, CA: CBC). November 18, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012. "After she died, the video gained worldwide recognition and registered more than six million hits, and copies of the video re-posted to YouTube have since gained at least 16 million additional hits." 
  5. ^ Associated Press (2012-10-12). "Canadian teen found dead weeks after posting wrenching YouTube video detailing bullying". Fox News. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ Luymes, Glenda (March 25, 2002). "Cyberbullying: Outpouring of grief over teen's suicide (with video)". The province. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ "About CABE". BC, CA: sd43. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  8. ^ "RCMP launch investigation into death of bullied BC teen". CTV News (CA). Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ "After Amanda Todd's death, Christy Clark says new laws may be needed to combat bullying". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Online bullying of B.C. teen continues amid police probe | CTV News". Ctvnews.ca. October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d Shaw, Gillian (October 20, 2012). "'She shared everything with me': Amanda Todd's mother talks about her life with her daughter". vancouversun.com. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c "Bullied Canadian teen leaves behind chilling YouTube video - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  13. ^ Villalva, Brittney R. (October 14, 2012). "Amanda Todd: 15-Year-Old Tells Story of Bullying and Suicide Before Death". The Christian Post. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ Gillian Shaw (October 14, 2012). "Amanda Todd's mother speaks out about her daughter, bullying (with video)". Vancouver Sun. 
  15. ^ Keneally, Meghan. "Tragedy as girl, 15, kills herself just one month after posting desperate YouTube plea begging bullies to stop tormenting her". Daily Mail. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Port Coquitlam teen driven to death by cyberbullying (with video)". Vancouver Sun. October 12, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ Dufour, Katinka (October 16, 2012). "Amanda Todd case highlights issue of online bullying". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved November 11, 2012. "Amanda Todd, was found hanged in her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, last Wednesday, one month before her 16th birthday." 
  18. ^ Penny, Laurie (October 18, 2012). "It's too late for Amanda Todd, but we must out the cyber-bullies - Comment - Voices - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved November 20, 2012. "Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Canadian schoolgirl hanged herself, last week, after years of unrelenting abuse by peers and online predators, one of whom persuaded her to flash her breasts and then shared the picture around the world." 
  19. ^ Agomuoh, Fionna (October 15, 2012). "Amanda Todd Suicide Doesn't End Cyber Torment For Ridiculed Teen". International Business Times. Retrieved November 20, 2012. "Amanda Todd of British Columbia apparently hanged herself on Oct. 10 after a grave mistake followed her for the rest of her brief life." 
  20. ^ Ryall, Jenni (October 17, 2012). "Anonymous outs bully they claim drove Amanda Todd to suicide, mum says leave her family alone |News.com.au". News Limited. Retrieved November 20, 2012. "Amanda Todd, from Vancouver, Canada, was found hanged in her home on October 10, weeks after she uploaded a video to YouTube that describes - via a series of note cards - her treatment at the hands of a cyber bully." 
  21. ^ a b "Global BC | RCMP launch full investigation into Amanda Todd's death". Globaltvbc.com. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Amanda Todd's alleged tormentor named by hacker group - British Columbia - CBC News
  23. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/amanda-todd-suicide-rcmp-repeatedly-told-of-blackmailer-s-attempts-1.2427097
  24. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/1.2614034
  25. ^ Alan Waterman, Canadian Press (October 17, 2012). "Amanda Todd probe delayed by online rumours, scams". CBC.ca. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Bullying victims remembered in vigils worldwide:Vigils, memorials follow suicide of B.C. teen Amanda Todd last week". CBC.ca. October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  27. ^ Brown, Louise (October 18, 2012). "Amanda Todd: Toronto students to remember bullied teen who committed suicide". Toronto Star (Toronto ON). p. 2. Retrieved October 20, 2012. 
  28. ^ James Keller, Canadian Press (October 19, 2012). "Amanda Todd's death felt at We Day event in Vancouver". The Province. Retrieved October 19, 2012. [dead link]
  29. ^ Ferreras, Jesse. "Amanda Todd's Mother, Carol Todd, Excluded From Anti-Bullying Conference". Huffpost British Columbia. HPMG News. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Amanda Todd Memorial Set For Sunday". Huffpost British Columbia. HPMG News. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  31. ^ Amanda Todd honoured by hundreds at Coquitlam memorial service Retrieved Nov 19, 2012
  32. ^ a b Shaw, Gillian; Sinoski, Kelly (October 17, 2012). "B.C. man denies harassing Amanda Todd; RCMP say allegations are 'unfounded'". Ottawa Citizen (Postmedia Network Inc.). Retrieved January 27, 2013 
  33. ^ "Amanda Todd Investigation: Police Say Anonymous Outed the Wrong Man". inquisitr.com. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  34. ^ Woo, Andrea (October 17, 2012). "'Hacktivist' group names second person in Amanda Todd case". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  35. ^ Hewlett, Jason (January 3, 2013). "Amanda Todd video put spotlight on bullying". kamloopsnews.ca. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Ontario man loses job after writing cruel Facebook comment about Amanda Todd". National Post Wire Services. Oct 17, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Toronto man fired after 'trolling' Amanda Todd Facebook page". Ottawa Citizen. October 16, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Police question New Zealand teen over Amanda Todd images". BNO News. October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2012. 
  39. ^ Shaw, Gillian. "Mother wants Amanda Todd's video to help others". Calgaryherald.com. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Bullied Teen's Death Spurs Fake Sites". ABC News. October 18, 2012. 
  41. ^ CTVNews.ca Staff (October 14, 2012). "In wake of Amanda Todd suicide, MPs to debate anti-bullying motion". CTV News. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 

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