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Cyberbullying To Blame For Teen Suicide

Unfortunately there is still a huge portion of society that for one reason or another, doesn’t understand how serious the consequences of cyberbullying and online abuse can be. In this particular case, it has cost a young girl her life.

Fifteen year old Florida schoolgirl, Tovanna Horton tragically took her own life last week after nude pictures and a video of her taking a shower were circulated on social media channels following an initial video Snapchat recording.

Close friends claim that the original video was supposed to be a positive ‘body appreciation’ post on Snapchat but problems arose when the images and video were later spread virally online, without Tovanna’s permission, along with hateful comments aimed her (if you are affected by any form of online hate, visit our cyberbullying and digital abuse help center or total access support services for 24/7 help).

This highlights concerns about the way that peoples personal data and private pictures or videos can be ‘owned’ by someone else and distributed on social media, even though it may be completely out of context to its original purpose and without the permission of the person.

We can now see the devastating consequences of these actions and should be asking, ‘is this acceptable?’ As the more we see the internet and social media being weaponized to cause harm and distress to others, the more we see increasing numbers of self-harm and suicide cases around the world.

The sad loss of one of their classmates has prompted the students at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Tampa Florida to post online tributes and photos of Tovanna with the tag #StopBullying. Tributes and messages have been pouring in to offer support to the family and to call for the bullies to come forward. One close family friend posted a heartfelt plea for justice and called for schools to begin teaching students about responsible social media use.

“This beautiful angel’s name is Tovonna Holton. On June 5th, 2016 she took her own life after being filmed nude in the shower by peer students, who then shared and shamed her on snapchat. She was a student of Wiregrass High School in Wesley Chapel, FL. If you have any details on the students who participated in this bullying, please contact authorities or the family. ‪#‎StopBullying‬‪#‎ProtectOurChildren‬ and please, if you allow your children to use social media, teach them to do so responsibly. My prayers go to the family of this beautiful young woman. I hope that all schools and parents began to attack the beast of bullying and social media. Please share and post as you would want someone to do if this was YOUR baby.”‬‬

Anonymous Family Friend

This tragic suicide of yet another young person due to cyberbullying must surely send a clear message to schools, parents and social media platforms, that more needs to be done to educate the younger generation in safe and responsible use of the internet and how to protect themselves from becoming targets of online hate and abuse. If you are affected by abuse online please visit our cyberbullying and online abuse help center or have a look at our total access support section to see how we can help you. For more information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the following suggestions.

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