Was Pasco girl who committed suicide a victim of cyberbullying? | News
HUDSON, Florida -- As kids leave Fivay High School on Tuesday, the color purple stands out. Dozens of students are wearing it to remember their friend Jessica Laney.
"She was always so happy when you saw her and she was always there for you," said Laney's friend, Jenna Clifton. "If something was wrong, she was the first one to ask you what was going on and if you would be okay."
The smiley 16-year-old who tried to cheer up everyone else took her own life on Sunday. Some of her friends blame online bullying. "People were telling her all the time, 'Why don't you kill yourself? You have nothing to live for,'" said Jessica McAdams, who has known Laney since kindergarten.
10 News found a number of those messages on the chat site ask.fm, cruel words posted anonymously.
"Just kill yourself, you're worthless."
"Can you just kill yourself already?"
Still, Laney's friends didn't worry too much, because her replies seemed to indicate she was ignoring the messages. "She's, like, 'I can't, I'm too busy working on my future,' and everyone thought she's okay, she's not letting it get to her, and that was only, like, two weeks ago," said Clifton.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Jessica was hospitalized last year after she threatened to commit suicide, and she had not complained to the school about any bullying. However, Sheriff Chris Nocco still advises parents to monitor online activity.
"Be careful of the sites the kids are going on. Even if the child's a teenager, they're not mature enough to see or read some of the things on the Internet," he said.
10 News tried to contact Laney's family on Wednesday. A man who answered the phone at her home declined to comment.
Jessica's friends have also started an online petition aimed at banning the chat site and they've cancelled their accounts. But they're still talking, committed to spreading this message. "Stop bullying," said Jamie Salgado. "Words do hurt."