Rally to remember teenager who committed suicide after being bullied

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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‘Bullying is a criminal behaviour ... we are waiting too long to do something.'

It's been a number of years since Truro's Leana Todd has seen her niece Amanda, as pictured in this photo from the mid-2000s. Leana is devastated her niece committed suicide in relation to severe bullying and she's now rallying the community to do something about the issue. Submitted photo

TRURO - Leana Todd feels sick her to stomach when she thinks about the bullying that caused her niece to end her young life.

Amanda Todd, 15, who was living in Coquitlam, B.C., was Leana's niece. Leana said the teenager committed suicide last Wednesday, a month after posting a YouTube video detailing her experiences with online and offline bullying.

Leana is devastated the bullying resulted in her niece's death.

"I'm sick to my stomach. I felt like I was being bullied myself when I heard about it ... she felt she'd never escape," the bullying, Leana told the Truro Daily News on Sunday.

Leana said she hadn't seen her niece in seven or eight years but she has many fond memories of Amanda, including her singing.

"She loved to sing and was really spunky and fun," said Leana. "And she was brave to put up her struggles on Youtube."

In one Youtube video, Amanda told her story, using cue cards only, in a heart-wrenching video that chronicled her nightmare. The emotional torture included verbal abuse, beatings, a cyber-stalker who tracked her down whenever she tried to start afresh at a new school and who posted images of her showing off her body after feeling flattered by online attention. She also admitted to feeling anxiety and depression and experimenting with drugs and alcohol and cutting herself.

At one point in the video, using the cards, she communicated about youth beating her and "I just went and layed in a ditch and my dad found me." When she went home with her dad, she drank bleach in an attempt to kill herself, but was saved after a rushed trip to the hospital.

Knowing the horror of what Amanda experienced has made Leana all the more determined to strive to put an end to bullying. Leana is organizing a community candlelight vigil in Victoria Park this Friday night at 6 p.m., stressing the gathering, which is open to everyone, is more than just keeping a memory alive. She wants it to be a major stance in the fight against bullying, which she believes is a criminal act that needs to be stopped now.

"I'm trying really hard to put my anger into doing good things rather than retaliation. Bullying is a criminal behaviour in my point of view ... and I'd like to see legislation passed on it. It's an epidemic ... people are dying," said Leana. "We are waiting too long to do something and it breaks my heart because this didn't have to happen (with Amanda). This is the new face of violence. It's scary to be raising children."

The vigil service and rally will include guest speakers Colchester North MLA Karen Casey, Truro-Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann, and the Cyberbullying Task Force from the Truro Police Service. The local service, which is one of many expected to be held across the country Friday night, will also include a moment of silence, music and potentially mental health speakers. Leana believes there will be at the very least 200 people in attendance.

She hopes the rally will inspire a long-lasting fight against bullying, one which will also motivate local communities to take a no-tolerance policy with bullying.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the RCMP indicate at least 25 investigators are working on Amanda's case. RCMP said they received more than 400 tips from around the world as they try to identify the bullies related to her case. They're also getting complaints about what they call hurtful comments and images posted online since Amanda's death.

Leana said she refuses to look at the hurtful comments and videos.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Truro Daily News, RCMP, Truro Police Service

Geographic location: Coquitlam, Victoria Park

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Recent comments

  • Toby
    October 16, 2012 - 09:46

    Sadly Karen that phrase no longer applies. Bullies hide behind the internet because they think that either they can not be found or if they are that nothing will happen to them. To date it does not appear that anything has happen. Until the powers to be decide to really put some teeth into holding cyber bullies accountable for their actions, what happened to Leana will in all likelihood becoming a more common occurance.

  • Mrs. E
    October 15, 2012 - 12:19

    That may be what was said but recently it's obvious that the saying does not apply and young people are being hurt along with families. Some need to think about what they are saying before they say it. I agree that there should be consequences to cyber bullying as many think they can get away with anything over the internet.

  • Danielle
    October 15, 2012 - 09:42

    You dont know me buy ,My heart goes out to Amanda's family at such a difficult time. I have children myself and to even think of this happening to any of them makes me sick to my stomach. The hell this young girl must of being going through is unbearable to even think of... I hope they find who caused all this heartache and tragedy and I hope that all the bullies out there realise the consequences of there actions can cause and have caused many people. R.I.P Amanda Todd, what a beautiful angel. XO.

  • karen turner
    October 15, 2012 - 08:23

    I am of the opinion that bullies are only jealous people who find that they are no as smart or popular as their victims. we used to say" sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me"!

    • Juliette
      October 15, 2012 - 10:36

      Those people who are bullying are just "low life". They enjoy ruining other young boys and girls lives. They must be very unhappy with themselves and they have made a choice to damage other young lives. This is a "criminal act" and the law should send them all to "boot camps" and "detention centers" for at least 3 years and 10 years if someone kill themselves because of psychological and physical abuse from the bullying. Hopefully, the Canadian government will come out with a harsh law for the abusers. People should keep an eye open and denounce everyone doing bullying harassment. PROTECT your kids and don't be scare to denounce those criminals. They don't care about your kids... why would you care or be scare to denounce them. Report them to the cops or the authorities.

    • LJ
      October 15, 2012 - 12:56

      So being verbally harassed 24/7 is okay with you?