Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Suicide of Amanda Todd Facts and Truths

Amanda Michelle Todd (November 1996 – October 10, 2012)

 was a 15-year-old Canadian teenager whose suicide was attributed to cyber-bullying through the social networking website Facebook On September 7, 2012, Todd posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being blackmailed, bullied, and physically assaulted. In it she mentions sending an image of her breasts to a man who later circulated it around the internet.

Shortly before 6:00 pm on October 10, 2012, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to her home in Port Coquitlam, to investigate what they refer to as a "sudden death". They have since launched a full investigation into Todd's death. Police are conducting interviews, reviewing content at social media sites, and are actively monitoring pages.

Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia, made an online statement of condolence suggesting a national discussion be made discussing criminalizing cyber-bullying.

Todd was a 10th-grade student at CABE Secondary in Coquitlam.

Background and suicide
On September 7, 2012, Todd posted a 9-minute YouTube video entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self harm, in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being bullied. The video post went viral, receiving over 1,600,000 views by October 13, 2012, with online newspapers around the world linking to it.

During the video Todd says that, during seventh grade, she used video chat to meet new people over the internet, where 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".

Todd says that during the next Christmas break, police informed her that the photo was circulating the internet. The news caused Todd to experience anxiety, major depression and panic disorder. Her family moved to a new home, but she began taking drugs and alcohol. Her anxiety worsened to a point where it was so bad that she couldn't leave the house.

A year later the individual reappeared, creating a Facebook profile with the topless photograph as the profile image. Again Todd was teased, and eventually changed school for a second time. Happier, she says she began chatting to "an old guy friend" who appeared to like her. The friend asked Todd to come to his house, where they had sex, whilst his girlfriend was on holiday. The following week the girlfriend and a group of others attacked Todd at school; shouting insults and punching her to the ground. Following the incident Todd attempted suicide by drinking bleach, but was rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped.

After returning home Todd discovered abusive messages about the incident posted to Facebook. Her family moved to another city to start afresh, but Todd was unable to escape the past. Six months later further messages and abuse were still being posted to social networking sites. She began cutting herself and her anxiety was getting worse. Despite taking anti-depressants and receiving counselling, she took an overdose and spent two days in hospital.

Todd was teased by other students at her school for her low marks (she had learning disabilities) and for spending time in hospital to treat her severe depression.

On October 10, 2012 at about 6:00 PM (PDT), Todd was found dead at her home.

A preliminary investigation by B.C. Coroners Service show that Todd's death was a suicide. Investigators know the means by which she died, but will not release the information.

Both the RCMP and B.C. Coroners Service have launched an investigation with 20 full-time investigators working on the case. The Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows' serious crime teams are cooperating in a full investigation, conducting interviews and examining possible potential factors that may have contributed to her death.

Investigators are reviewing content at social media sites, and are actively monitoring pages.

Internet hacking and activist group Anonymous has identified a 32-year-old man as Todd's alleged blackmailer and main tormentor. The group published the Vancouver-area man's name and address on the Internet. The man has since received online threats of vigilante justice.After investigating the tip, police determined that the allegations were unfounded. According to an interview with the Vancouver Sun, the publication of his identity on social media sites has resulted in over 50 emails and "thousands" of Facebook death threats.

The Canadian national organization reports having received a tip about Todd nearly one year ago. 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.

Todd's suicide received widespread, international media coverage, many of which including a video link to the YouTube message, and an email address provided by the RCMP appealing for information from the public. Within 24 hours of the appeal, over 400 tips were received. The RCMP also stated their 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.

On October 19, 2012, a series of vigils was held across Canada and internationally to remember Todd and other victims of bullying. A minute of silence was observed by a quarter of a million students in the Toronto District School Board district. 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.
Social media

On October 13, 2012, the term R.I.P Amanda Todd began trending worldwide on social networking site Twitter. Since the posting of the YouTube video, more than one million Facebook users had "liked" Todd’s Facebook memorial page.Among the positive support and comments were continuing attack posts and images by strangers and former classmates, one being from someone identifying herself as a former classmate posting "I’m so happy she’s dead now."On October 15, 2012, her message was featured on YouTube's homepage. 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, stating, "We have zero tolerance".

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.
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 support programs for young people with mental health problems.
Parliamentary motion

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

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