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Bullied 12-year-old Florida girl commits suicide

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:38 a.m. HST, Sep 12, 2013

LAKELAND, Fla. » A 12-year-old Florida girl committed suicide after she was bullied online by more than a dozen girls and a sheriff said today that he is investigating whether he can file charges under Florida's new law that covers cyber-bullying.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that Rebecca Ann Sedwick jumped to her death on Monday at an old cement business in Lakeland, a city between Tampa and Orlando. Investigators say the girl was despondent after others had posted hate messages about her online.

Sedwick was "absolutely terrorized on social media," Judd said.

The Lakeland Ledger (http://bit.ly/1enEgI5) reports that detectives found multiple social media applications where Sedwick was constantly bullied with messages, including "Go kill yourself," and "Why are you still alive?"

He said parents of all 15 girls have cooperated with detectives and several cellphones and laptops have been confiscated. Judd said charges could be filed -- including cyber stalking.

"If we can get any evidence of a criminal offense, the person or persons involved will be punished," he said.

Before her death, Sedwick had searched questions online related to suicide, including "How many over-the-counter drugs do you take to die?" and "How many Advil do you have to take to die?"

Detectives also found photos of Sedwick with razor blades lying on her arms and with her head resting on a railroad track, Judd said.

Judd said a 12-year-old boy in North Carolina, who Sedwick met through social media, knew of her plan. Sedwick messaged him only hours before her death saying she was dead and "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore."

Sedwick also changed her name on a free messaging application to "That Dead Girl."

Judd said detectives are trying to investigate the social media applications that Sedwick used, including Kik and Ask.fm, but many of the websites are based in other countries.

If detectives can find evidence, according to Florida law, the girls could be charged with felony cyber stalking because Sedwick was under 16 years old.

"If you bully somebody online and it's reported to us and we can build a credible case, we will charge you," Judd said.

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aomohoa wrote:
So sad. A 12 year old should never be on line without supervision from her parents. This media age has made bullying so much worse.
on September 12,2013 | 10:54AM
Oh please, people like you make me sick. Are we all so perfect in our attempts to raise our children. People do make mistakes, people cannot be watching their children 24/7. Sure, there are safety precautions you can take, but please try and inject a bit of common sense before suggesting you have never detracted from your own high standards.
on September 12,2013 | 04:37PM
likewise wrote:
It's so much easier to be cruel from behind a keyboard. What a sad story.
on September 12,2013 | 11:08AM
TigerEye wrote:
As can be seen from the stories in this newspaper and the comments following them, alcohol or anonymity are preferred vehicles for releasing the "brave" beasts from within.
on September 12,2013 | 12:17PM
nalogirl wrote:
Very sad, I hope this new law does charge these mean girls. Thoughts and prayers to the family.
on September 12,2013 | 11:14AM
paniolo wrote:
Totally agree. It's getting too easy for people to bully others online. It's enough when they bully people face to face, but it's easy on a computer, cell phone, etc. I just wish the girl had seek help through her parents, counselors, etc. Get all the evidence and make these girls do time in juvenile detention or community service. Cyber-bullying should be a crime punishable by imprisonment, either juvie or regular prison. Put their pictures in the news. Let everybody see who these troublemakers are. If they cannot serve time incarcerated, make them SHAME by showing who they are. Too many deaths of innocent people. My ALOHA to her ohana.
on September 12,2013 | 11:41AM
HOSSANA wrote:
Excellent comments on possible punishment by putting their pixs in the news and letting everybody see who these troublemakers are........
on September 12,2013 | 12:12PM
poidragon wrote:
you know how to lessen cyber-bullying? Turn off the social media site, computer, smartphone or other means of internet interaction and read a book or do anything else to get yourself clear of such people. Talk to your parents and inform them of the situation and ask for help! Parent's should be supervising their children when they are online, it's called being accountable for your children, whether or not they like it or not, your the parent!
on September 12,2013 | 02:17PM
Another one.
on September 12,2013 | 04:39PM
islandmom wrote:
My heart breaks for her parents and family. Kids can be so cruel, and it's so much easier to be so when you are just looking at a screen and not saying it to someone's face. Even here with the Star-Advertiser comments, there are people who say horrible things and hide behind a screen name. The online world would be so much better if we would only submit comments that are respectful and intelligent enough to say to someone's face during a conversation.
on September 12,2013 | 11:19AM
50skane wrote:
I wonder though how many of those 15 girls who bullied her are sorry for what happened. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them said that it was good that the girl committed suicide because in their minds "she was a loser". That would be a shinning example of how demented are kids are getting now days, and I blame a lot of these weird TV shows and movies that depict this same kind of bullying mentality as normal. What is happening to our world? Things seemed to be so much more simple thirty and forty years ago.
on September 12,2013 | 11:42AM
ryan02 wrote:
I think both parents and society in general have decided that compassion is weakness, and the only important thing in life is being a winner.
on September 12,2013 | 12:00PM
ryan02 wrote:
I think this is very sad. I can't imagine anything sadder than a child's death. However, face-to-face bullying is so much worse. Students cannot avoid bullying in school unless the schools and parents (and law enforcement) get tough. But parents can easily shut down the computer, or they should be able to do so anyway. Plus, when it's face-to-face bullying, there's an actual live person who is denigrating the victim. No matter what name the person posts under, there ins't the same impact when you read something on the internet. Does anybody really take posts seriously when you can never be sure who they're from? You know the old saying -- "The Internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents." Also, I wonder if she was suicidal before interacting with the other kids on-line, and that's what the other kids picked up on. The article doesn't say what the timeline was (whether she researched articles on killing herself before or after the hateful comments). Again, this is sad, but I think failures at home (monitoring computer use, watching the girl's emotional state, etc.) are more to blame.
on September 12,2013 | 11:58AM
Mei mei wrote:
i don't get it ... bullying why....
on September 12,2013 | 12:10PM
control wrote:
Bullies do it because it makes them feel superior, in power, in control, dominant. and IRT to ryan02, yes, children obviously take posts on the internet seriously. I disagree with your assessment that in person is worse. the only difference is that in person is more visible to others who could intervene. Most kids don't use computers to access social media - they all have smart phone and wifi devices.
on September 12,2013 | 02:44PM
Mei mei wrote:
I hope these idiotic kids get punished for what they did. WTH has our society come to?
on September 12,2013 | 12:08PM
TLehel wrote:
I just don't understand how people can be so hateful to others. What sick, twisted reality do you live in when you think telling someone they should kill themselves is okay? I just don't understand. Peer influence and social status in middle and high school can be so messed up. Reading this makes me want to go assault each of those kids. And they'd deserve the concussion, too. Little vermin. I do think that if the kid's parents were aware of this situation (which they should have been honestly) then they could have prevented this. Shut off her computer or bring this to the attention of the school/authorities.
on September 12,2013 | 12:48PM
TLehel, it is called being 15 years old. Please think back to when you were that age, or I suppose you were a complete angel-I DOUBT IT. With this being said, I dont condone it-I am just answering your question, "I don't understand how people can be so hateful to others" KIDS, they can be cruel, or have you forgotten your childhood?
on September 12,2013 | 04:42PM
TLehel wrote:
Yeah, I remember very well. I had problems in school and I never understood it then either. No, I wasn't a complete angel, but I've never been so hateful that I'd tell people to go kill themselves. I've teased people in my life. Most of us have made someone else feel less than, but I think there's a huge difference between normal social posturing and harassing to the point where someone wants to kill themself. Yeah, 15 years old. I think there's a lot more to demented children than their age.
on September 12,2013 | 05:19PM
poidragon wrote:
Good those girls need to learn a harsh lesson for what they have done to that girl! Their collective actions do have consequences beyond social media and the internet!
on September 12,2013 | 02:12PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Part of the problem is with the parents and our new society...we coddle our young...shelter them from life. Look at how we ask our government to provide everything for us. Survival of the fit....the strong. It is natures way of weeding out the weak. I feel empathy for the family but....
on September 12,2013 | 03:09PM
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