The family of a B.C. teenager who took her own life last week is asking online bullies to leave the teenager alone, police say.
Amanda Todd committed suicide in her family home on Wednesday, about a month after posting a video on YouTube saying she had sunk into depression after enduring years of online bullying, blackmail and physical assaults at school.
At a news conference on Saturday, RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen asked anyone disparaging the teen online to stop and think.
"We've spoken directly with the family at length and they are asking that those that are putting out these inappropriate comments, continuing to post pictures of Amanda, to please stop," Thiessen said.
Crisis help lines
- Crisis Centre: 1-800-SUICIDE.
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868.
"What if it was their mother, their sister, their daughter, that made this terrible decision that Amanda made? Would they be comfortable with those images and inappropriate comments being put out on social media? I would suggest they probably wouldn't be."
Thiessen said those posting inappropriate comments could face legal action.
"They run the risk of being charged criminally," he said. "If we gain the appropriate evidence, charges will be forwarded for approval where we can."
Remarks called 'sickening'
Images and comments making light of Todd’s death and suggesting she deserved to be bullied are flooding a Facebook memorial page dedicated the teen — so many that Facebook can’t remove them fast enough.
Many of the posts come from the U.S., where Todd's mother says the teen had a cyber-stalker who talked her into flashing her breasts — then sent the pictures to her friends and teachers.
Even cyber-bullying expert Wanda Cassidy, an SFU professor, says she’s shocked the bullying is continuing after Todd’s suicide.
"It is really sickening," she said. "Kids aren’t the only people that cyber-bully. Older people do as well so it can be a habit that is engrained in a family or in society at large."
Cassidy says Facebook should release the names of people who commit acts of hate or libel online.
"Police need to be more involved. The courts are starting to get more involved. Parents need to be more involved, schools need to be more involved and we as a society need to say we will not tolerate this behaviour."
Tips flooding in
Police say they have received more than 400 tips following Todd's death, and about 25 investigators are working on the case.
Police say charges could be laid as a result of the investigation, but warn it will be a long and complex process.
Meanwhile, players at a football game at Samuel Robertson Technical in Maple Ridge, B.C., wore bright pink socks in Todd’s honour on Saturday.
Rob Kenal, the father of one of the players, said he’s proud the team is taking a stand.
"I never had that when I was a kid and it’s all new for us," he said. "Bullying is a big thing now. So hopefully my son will be able to deal with it really well."
The game started with a minute of silence and was supported by a crowd of students who all came to remember Todd.