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17-Yr-Old Girl Kills Self After Rape Photo Goes Viral

17-Yr-Old Girl Kills Self After Rape Photo Goes Viral

If the Steubenville rape case broke your heart and made you mad, you may not want to read on.

Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old young woman from Nova Scotia, Canada, hanged herself in her bathroom last Thursday. On Sunday night, April 7, her family decided to take her off life support because she had injured herself so badly.

Her mother, Leah Parsons, has set up a Facebook page for her, where she explains:

This page is dedication to my wonderful Daughter who was smart, beautiful, and full of life with a deep compassion to animals. The Person Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys… one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral.

At Cole Harbour District High School Rehtaeh started getting bullied on social media and from her classmates. She moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax in an attempt to start over.

And when her mother contacted the police, here’s what happened.

From The Chronicle Herald:

Parsons said she was unhappy with what she saw of the investigation.

“They didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later. To me, I’d think you’d get the boys right away, separate them.”

When it came to the photo or photos taken that night, “nothing was done about that because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone,” she said.

She was told that the distribution of the photos is “not really a criminal issue, it’s more of a community issue,” she said.

“Even though she was 15 at the time, which is child pornography.”

Isn’t child pornography enough of a reason to continue the investigation?

Surely even more so, now that this young woman has taken her own life. However, The Vancouver Sun is reporting Nova Scotia’s justice minister, Ross Landry, as saying he does not plan to order a review of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation that concluded there were no grounds to lay charges against the four boys who allegedly sexually assaulted Rehtaeh Parsons. Landry supposedly believes that the police have followed all the proper procedures, and there are no grounds for further action.

As a parent and a teacher I am heartbroken for Retaeh and her family, but as a fellow human being and a journalist, I am appalled that I am yet again writing about the terrible consequences of cyberbullying.

Rehtaeh Parsons joins numerous other teens who have killed themselves under similar circumstances. Remember Amanda Todd and the video she posted? Or 15-year-old Jadin Bell, whose brief life was cut short by bullying? There are so many of them, and we must do something.

If you agree that the tragic story of Retaeh Parsons must not be covered up, please sign our petition, demanding that the Canadian police conduct a thorough investigation into her death.

And if you know anyone who needs help, please direct them to:

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK: a confidential, 24/7 free hotline.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Steubenville Rapists Convicted But Damage Is Done

Sexting Is Not Illegal. But Child Pornography Is

15-Year-Old Jadin Bell, Targeted By Bullies, Is Dead

 

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516 comments

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2:46PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

I agree with Deborah S when she asks about the desire of some people to call for a boycott of tourism. Why boycott tourism in Canada over this tragic death, or do people not believe that this cannot occur elsewhere? Care2 did a story on a 15 year old Californian teen, Audrie Pott who suffered the same fate, she also took her own life, shall we now boycott the U.S.? The father of this American teen felt that the police force there did little to help his daughter. What about nations in Europe and all other nations where rape and social media has predominated?

Plainly, there are few nations on earth that would escape such a boycott. Often it is the officers involved in the investigations that can be unfeeling while a similar investigation in another location in the same nation would be very different. As Shawna S pointed out, this is not a Canadian issue, it happens worldwide including how many police forces ignore the plight of rape victims. If they don't ignore them, women are often treated badly with insensitivity by the legal/justice systems when they are the victims of a crime.

10:47AM PDT on Sep 24, 2013

Thank you. This is a horrible tragedy. All I can do is ask that each one of us be kind, and teach kindness. Then perhaps less people will be victimized by this kind of terrible crime. Thank you.

10:41AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

I'm struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I'm not doing this for attention. I'm doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I'd rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don't hate, although im sure I'll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I'm still here aren't I ?

- AmandaTodd (2012)

9:40AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Sad. RIP
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S0cAwMcKTDQ

11:51PM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

Heartbreaking tragedy...

11:51PM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

Heartbreaking tragedy...

11:58AM PDT on Sep 2, 2013

This is so sad.

5:32AM PDT on Aug 23, 2013

this is a sure call to potential rapists to say it is alright to rape and film it. Nova Scotia hang your head in shame.

5:12AM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

My heart is aching for the trauma, humiliation, bullying and torture this young girl just, starting life was subjected to. Her attackers are getting away with the crime, compliments of the law but why? (They may think they have beat the law and justice system but somehow they will pay and also they have to live with themselves so here's hoping they never have true peace for what they inflicted on this innocent girl.)The laws need to be changed in order to cover such despicable crimes. This kind of ineptitude is a problem in just about every country because the powers that be sit on their hands and try to pull the wool over the common citizens eyes. Boycotting the good citizens of their lively hood is not the answer because they are being held to ransom by the law makers who are too lazy to rework the law into a fair and just outcome now & in future. Love and Peace.

10:27AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

I agree with Theresa R. and Jeanne R. Anyone involved in any way should be named, shamed and prosecuted, regardless of age. You can see hiding a kid's identity because of his/her immaturity at the time a crime was committed. But a crime like this cannot be considered one that can be excused or mitigated by immaturity. Any kids partaking in bullying of any kind should also be named and shamed and charged with manslaughter - at the very least.

There should be anti-bullying classes every year starting in kindergarten. Kids should not only be encouraged to tell an adult if they are being bullied, but to tell an adult if they know someone else is being bullied. Maybe even "gang up" on the bullies. ;-)

In all seriousness, that's what would happen where I lived. Low rise apt. bldgs. built for WW II vets. It was a unique set-up and great place to be a kid. Bullies simply weren't tolerated. Come to think of it, the only kids that I remember ever trying were new to the complex. They were put in their place quickly. If it wasn't someone's much older and bigger brother that got called to the rescue, it'd be a bunch of kids threatening to "knock the bully's block off" - boys AND girls. We were an equal opportunity lynch mob.

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