The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 16, 2013

2 charged in Fla. after bullied girl's suicide

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The case has illustrated, once more, the ways in which youngsters are using the Internet to torment others.

In a review of news articles last month, AP found about a dozen suicides in the U.S. since October 2010 that were attributed at least in part to cyberbullying. Aftab said she thought the number was at least twice that.

Before her death, Rebecca changed one of her online screen names to "That Dead Girl" and she messaged a boy in North Carolina: "I'm jumping." Detectives found some of her diaries at her home, and she talked of how depressed she was about the situation.

Last December, Rebecca was hospitalized for three days after cutting her wrists because of what she said was bullying, according to the sheriff. Later, after Rebecca complained that she had been pushed in the hallway and that another girl wanted to fight her, Rebecca's mother began home-schooling her in Lakeland, a city of about 100,000 midway between Tampa and Orlando, Judd said.

This fall, Rebecca started at a new school, but the bullying continued online, authorities said.

"Rebecca's mother went above and beyond to create interventions. The one issue that Rebecca's mom said to us was, 'I just didn't want to have her not like me, so I wanted to give her access to her cellphone so she could talk to her friends,'" Judd said. "Rebecca's family is absolutely devastated by this. Quite frankly, we're all devastated by this."

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