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15 Shocking Cases Of Cyberbullying That Led To Suicide

15 Shocking Cases Of Cyberbullying That Led To Suicide

With the rise of the internet came the rise of cyberbullying. Why might this be the case? Social psychological principles of group aggression can explain the proliferation of cyberbullying, for what is the internet but a large community of users? The first principle to consider is that the larger the group, the less responsible each member feels for the group’s actions. The internet diffuses responsibility for cyberbullying among a large number of individuals, making it easier for each person to participate. The second principle to keep in mind is that groups promote deindividuation. This means that people feel less self-aware and no longer fear evaluation from others.  Deindividuation is more likely to occur in groups that provide anonymity, which the internet does. Third, groups create social contagion, whereby individual aggressive impulses are magnified by the group. As a group, then, people will act more aggressively than they would alone.

It’s important to stress the fact that cyberbullies are not directly responsible for a person committing suicide. Most often, people who commit suicide have a history of mental illness. It’s the mental illness that causes suicide, not the actions of any individual person. Cyberbullying only serves as a stressor that may trigger an episode of mental illness. That doesn’t make cyberbullying okay, however. Take it from the fifteen teenagers on this list; cyberbullying, whether directly or indirectly, can end in suicide.

15. Joshua Unsworth: Trolled to Death


Joshua was only fifteen when he became the target of virtual abuse. The cyberbullying was concentrated on his page, a social networking website where internet trolls go to post anonymous messages, usually sexual or insulting in nature. Child safety experts have referred to as a “stalker’s paradise,” which gives you an idea of the kind of shenanigans that go on there. Anonymous users poked fun at Joshua’s father’s occupation as well as Joshua’s behaviour towards women, calling Joshua a farmer and a player. Joshua ended up hanging himself in his parents’ garden. But Joshua isn’t the only teenager to fall victim to the trolls.

14. Jessica Laney: The Girl Who Inspired a Petition


Sixteen-year-old Jessica Laney was another unfortunate victim of cyberbullying on She was bombarded with the usual female taunts: “you’re fat;” “you’re a slut;” “can you kill yourself already?” Well, that last one really struck a nerve. Tired of being criticized for her looks and her love life, Jessica hanged herself in her home. Her suicide ignited a firestorm of protest against It set in motion a petition on to shut down for good. To this day, lives on. What’s more, its reputation for driving teenagers to commit suicide is still going strong.

13. Daniel Perry: Blackmailed on Skype

Via’s third victim, seventeen-year-old Daniel Perry, wasn’t just subjected to the usual trolling characteristic of this social networking site. No, his tormentors took it one step further: they blackmailed him. Convincing him that they were a girl his age, they got him to join a Skype conversation. They then threatened to show webcam images from the conversation to his friends and family unless he transferred money to them. Daniel took the threat seriously, jumping off of the Forth Road Bridge in Fife, Scotland. His blackmailers had warned him that he would be better off dead if he didn’t pay them. Unfortunately, he took their words to heart.

12. Erin Gallagher: Two for the Price of One


Erin is the youngest victim of on this list, having committed suicide at thirteen years of age. Like most girls online, she was repeatedly harassed about her weight and her looks. Her last post on is quite revealing: “U prob think it was funny when [I] f**in put a rope round my neck cause of yous, yous [sic] are that sad!” Clearly, suicide was on her mind. Perhaps the most shocking part of this story isn’t Erin’s suicide, but what happened afterwards. Two months after she died, Erin’s older sister Shannon committed suicide! She never got over Erin’s death. It’s tragic, and it’s all brought to you by But isn’t the only source of cyberbullying.

11. Hope Witsell: Naked Selfie Gone Wrong


Nude photos are an epidemic these days. Just look at all of the celebrities who’ve had their nude photos leaked by hackers. Nude photos aren’t only a source of eternal embarrassment thanks to the internet, but they’re taking lives as well. Young lives. Hope Witsell was only thirteen when a nude photo sent her on a crash course with death. She texted a picture of herself topless to her boyfriend, which was shared by a third person with the world. Hope was branded a whore, and a “Hope Hater” page emerged on MySpace. She began cutting herself, and eventually hanged herself over her bed. When will girls learn not to take naked pictures of themselves?

10. Jessica Logan: PSA on Nude Photos


Jessica Logan fell into the same trap as Hope Witsell. She sent nude photos of herself to her boyfriend, who sent them to other girls at their high school when they broke up. Cyberbullying ensued, on MySpace, on Facebook, and through text messages. “Slut” and “whore” were common insults directed at Jessica. She began skipping school to escape harassment. To no one’s surprise, her school proved useless in addressing the bullying. So Jessica went on TV to tell her story. But it didn’t help. Jessica hanged herself in her bedroom at eighteen years of age, after attending the funeral of a boy she knew who had committed suicide.

9. Jadin Bell: Like Father Like Son


Cyberbullying not only exploits naked pictures, but it also preys on homosexuality. Jadin Bell was a happy fifteen-year-old with lots of friends. He was a cheerleader at his high school. Life couldn’t be better, until the social media harassment started. Jadin was cyberbullied for being gay. He tried to ignore the haters, but in the end, the harassment weighed too heavily on him. He hanged himself in an elementary schoolyard. But that’s not the end of this tragic tale. Not even a year later, Jadin’s father Joe was hit and killed by a truck while walking in memory of his son. How unfair is that?

8. Kenneth Weishuhn: Hated for Being Gay


Like Jadin, Kenneth was also targeted for his homosexuality. He was quite popular until he made a confession about his sexuality. Simply because he had come out as gay, classmates created a Facebook hate group against him. It was really an anti-gay group, and it included former friends of Kenneth. The cyberbullying got so bad that Kenneth even received death threats. His friends turned on him, fearing retribution if they didn’t. His sister’s friends also took shots at him. Shortly before his suicide, Kenneth told his mother that she didn’t know what it felt like to be hated. He was only fourteen years old when he committed suicide.

7. Tyler Clementi: Unwitting Sex Tape Star


Unlike the rest of the teens on this list, Tyler Clementi only became the target of cyberbullying after graduating from high school. The incident that led to his suicide took place at Rutgers University. Tyler brought a date back to his dorm room. His roommate knew that he was gay, and that he was bringing another man back to the dorm. So Tyler’s roommate secretly filmed Tyler and his date being intimate using a webcam. The video was shared online for other students’ viewing pleasure. When Tyler discovered what his roommate had done, and that his roommate was planning to film him a second time, he was driven to despair. At eighteen years of age, Tyler jumped off of the George Washington Bridge.

6. Audrie Pott: Assaulted and Shamed


Taking sexually suggestive pictures or videos of someone without their consent is possibly the worst form of cyberbullying there is. Poor Audrie Pott was only fifteen when she was sexually assaulted at a party. Pictures were taken of the assault, and were quickly disseminated online. Naked pictures. Pictures that could ruin a woman’s life. Audrie had had too much to drink and had passed out at the party. To her horror, she woke up to find herself being sexually assaulted. Several boys were involved in the assault. Audrie committed suicide after finding out that pictures of the assault were being shared on social media.

5. Rehtaeh Parsons: Cyberbullied After Death


Rehtaeh was another victim of sexual assault who became the target of cyberbullying. Her case is famous in Canada. Rehtaeh was seventeen when she was raped by four teenage boys at a party. Following the assault, a photo of Rehtaeh throwing up out of a window as one of the boys raped her, holding a thumbs-up sign, was shared online and via text. Slut shaming ensued online, with strange men propositioning Rehtaeh. Rehtaeh suffered from depression after that traumatizing night. She hanged herself with a belt in her bathroom. Unbelievably, the cyberbullying continued after Rehtaeh’s death, with a derogatory Facebook account called REAL Rehtaeh Parsons popping up online.

4. Amanda Todd: Unfortunate YouTube Star


Amanda Todd was another famous Canadian case of cyberbullying. Indeed, she became famous around the world thanks to her viral YouTube video. Amanda was fifteen when she was convinced by an anonymous person on Facebook to take her top off on camera. A year later, a topless photo of Amanda went viral online. The person who took the photo sent the photo to classmates at each new school that Amanda attended, preventing her from escaping her reputation as a loose woman created by cyberbullying. Amanda had a history of mental illness. She turned to drugs, alcohol and sex to cope with the cyberbullying. She cut herself, and drank bleach that nearly killed her. Her final suicide attempt was unfortunately successful. Cyberbullying continued after Amanda’s death, with people mocking her suicide.

3. Phoebe Prince: Victim or Harlot?


Phoebe was a fifteen-year-old Irish teen who moved to the United States with her family. She was popular with many of the older boys at her high school, and soon developed a reputation for stealing other girls’ boyfriends. Warranted or not, female classmates started referring to Phoebe as an Irish slut on Facebook. There was no question that Phoebe was a troubled girl. She had a history of cutting herself, taking mood disorder drugs, and conflict with other girls. Phoebe showed signs of suicidal ideation prior to committing suicide. She wrote a report for English class on a book about self-mutilation a few months before she died. She also attempted suicide shortly after that. Phoebe ultimately hanged herself in the stairwell of her home.

2. Ryan Halligan: Just a Boy in Search of Love


Ryan had a history of being bullied long before the cyberbullying occurred. In fifth grade, he was laughed at for his physical condition, while in seventh grade, boys spread rumours that he was gay. The rumours were so destructive that Ryan asked his parents to either home school him or to move. During the summer between seventh and eighth grade, Ryan began an online relationship with a popular girl from school. When eighth grade started, this girl told everyone who would listen that Ryan was a loser and that everything she had said to him online was a lie. She sent all of their instant messages to other students online to laugh about them. Ryan hanged himself at thirteen years of age. His sister found his body.

1. Megan Meier: Targeted by Adults


Megan had talked about suicide since the third grade. She had a history of depression, and had been seeing a therapist. When she was thirteen, she entered into an online relationship with a guy named Josh who added her on MySpace. One day, Josh told Megan that he didn’t want to be friends with her anymore because he had heard that she was mean to her friends. He started sharing Megan’s messages with others online. People on the internet started calling Megan fat and a slut. Megan hanged herself in her closet three weeks before her fourteenth birthday, after receiving a message from Josh that said the world would be a better place without her. The conclusion to this story is shocking: “Josh” was in fact the parents of an ex-friend of Megan’s! They created the fake account to find out what Megan had been saying about their daughter. How could adults be so cruel to a child?


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