News

CABE student dies after alleged bullying

Amanda Todd, from her Facebook profile page. - IMAGE VIA FACEBOOK
Amanda Todd, from her Facebook profile page.
— image credit: IMAGE VIA FACEBOOK

In the wake of a teenager's much publicized suicide, School District 43 said yesterday it was aware of a video in which a girl uses index cards to describe how she was bullied and provided supports to the Coquitlam high school student before she died.

The district didn't name the Grade 10 student who attended CABE (Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education), how long she went to school there, what supports she received, what other schools she may have attended or how she died, citing privacy issues.

SD43 spokesperson Cheryl Quinton said the district was aware of a video by a girl who tells the story of how she sank into depression after being bullied and, on Wednesday night, learned she had died.

Quinton said the district expresses its condolences to the family and the school community. Grief counsellors  were deployed to the school Friday and will stay as long as needed, she said.

On Thursday morning, various media reported that a student named Amanda Todd allegedly committed suicide. The story and condolences were spread through Twitter, and a video she made before she died received many hits before it was taken down by YouTube because the content violated its terms of service.

TEEN TELLS HER STORY ON VIDEO

Coquitlam RCMP were unavailable to comment but Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed Todd died Wednesday in Coquitlam. Her death is being investigated by Coquitlam RCMP as a "sudden death," as is typical in cases of suicide, and no details were released by The News' press time Thursday.

According to police, Todd spent most of her life in Maple Ridge but moved to Coquitlam to attend school.

Last month, a girl identifying herself as Amanda Todd posted a video on Youtube called "My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm."

In the video, Todd describes how she was bullied online and at school, about her struggles with drugs and alcohol and harming herself. She also describes and incident where she was attacked and taunted at school.

A Facebook page called "Rest in Peace Amanda Todd" was created the same day.

"RIP Amanda, now nobody can hurt you ever again. On the same note, we are sad, because the ones that loved you can never hug or kiss you again. Thank you for leaving such a powerful message behind, even though it wasn't on time to help you, hoping it can help others out there. RIP," reads one comment.

On Twitter, a young man wrote: "It makes me sick everyone who's saying they didn't bully her when they did. Just terrible."

One YouTube poster has started an online campaign to share Todd's video in order to raise awareness about cyberbullying, and encouraging Twitter users to use the #RIPAmandaTodd hashtag in her memory.

"One of my sister's friends just committed suicide six hours ago," states the user in reposted version of Todd's original video online. "One month ago, she talked about how she was almost pushed to the brink of suicide, and today she committed suicide. I want this to go viral as i do not want her to be forgotten and I want her voice to be heard."

Todd was formerly a member of the G Force Gym Vancouver All Stars cheerleading school in Port Coquitlam.

"Today, we feel the loss of our former [Vancouver All-Star] family member Amanda," states a post on the gym's Facebook page. "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 and find the next Amanda before another precious spunky teenager is lost."

Although Quinton was unable to confirm the details surrounding the girl's death, she said combatting bullying on social media is a challenge.

BULLYING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE

The district has several programs to raise awareness about bullying and how to stop it but it's difficult to root it out completely, she said, adding that the social responsibility programs to promote tolerance and compassion are many and include Roots of Empathy, where students work with babies to learn about compassion, peer mentoring, buddy systems and diversity programs. Students are also required at the beginning  of the year sign a code of conduct that is intolerant of bullying.

But stopping bullying on social media is difficult, Quinton said. "It just adds another dimension. Messages get out so quickly now that it is very difficult to deal with."

A digital code of conduct is being developed that will deal with cyberbullying, Quinton confirmed.

"We can't say the issue of bullying will ever go away, what we can do is reach out to students and the school community in various ways to heighten awareness to the issue," she added.

Coincidentally, the district is part of a community panel discussion on the topic of bullying to take place at Terry Fox Theatre later this month.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

– — with files from The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

 

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