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Suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick

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Rebecca Ann Sedwick
Born Rebecca Ann Sedwick
October 19, 2000
Sebring, Florida
Died (aged 12)
Lakeland, Florida
Cause of death Suicide by jumping
Nationality American
Education Crystal Lake Middle School
Occupation Student

Rebecca Ann Sedwick (October 19, 2000 - September 9, 2013)[1] was a 12-year-old student at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Florida who committed suicide by jumping off a concrete silo tower. Investigation into her death led to a conclusion of in-person and cyberbullying contributing to the decision to take her own life.[2] Sedwick's family later filed a lawsuit in relation to her death.[3][4]

Background, history and suicide[edit | edit source]

Rebecca and her family were originally from Sebring, Florida.[5][6][neutrality is disputed] While battling with depression and anxiety, she began to engage in self-mutilation by cutting. At one point, Rebecca was hospitalized for three days as a result of her actions.[7] After returning to school, an incident in a hallway with another student played a role in the decision to remove Rebecca from public school and begin the process of home schooling. Her mother also deactivated her social media accounts and took away her mobile phone.[7]

After returning to the public school system and transferring to another school to give her a fresh star,[8] Rebecca was given her mobile phone privileges back and she opened accounts on services such as Kik, Ask.fm and Voxer.[7] Snapshots later emerged of anonymous comments that were written to Rebecca on Ask.fm saying things like “Nobody cares about you”, “you seriously deserve to die” and “drink bleach and die.” It was later determined that, as the bullying grew worse, Rebecca was beginning to have suicidal thoughts. These thoughts were discovered to have begun about a year prior to her death. The investigation also showed new conflicts with students at school and Rebecca was withdrawn from public school in February 2013.

A search of Rebecca's mobile phone and computer uncovered internet searches like, “What is overweight for a 13 year-old girl?” and “How much Advil do you have to overdose in order to die?” Pictures of Sedwick with razor blades lying on her arms were shown on her mobile phone and her mobile phone wallpaper showed pictures of her head resting on the edge of a railroad track.[7] Before her death, she changed her name on one of her mobile phone apps to “That Dead Girl,” and messaged a 12-year-old friend in North Carolina saying, "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore."[9][10][11][12]

Following a media investigation, it was revealed that, a week prior to Rebecca's death, she received messages on her phone asking her why she was still alive and telling her to go kill herself.[13][14] Investigators said that Rebecca's mother even urged her to kill herself, saying things such as, "'You haven't killed yourself yet,'" and "'Go jump off of a building.'"

On September 9, 2013, Sedwick was found dead after jumping off an abandoned cement plant. At the time of her death, Sedwick was a grade 8 student at Crystal Lake Middle School in Lakeland, Florida.[15][16][6][7]

Investigation and arrest[edit | edit source]

On September 17, 2013, a 14-year-old girl and a 13-year-old were indicted on charges of aggravated stalking, accused of bullying Sedwick during an argument over a boy. The charges would later be dropped due to a lack of evidence.[17][18][19][20]

Aftermath and reaction[edit | edit source]

Sedwick's mother refuted claims that she was accountable for Rebecca's death and vowed to work with lawmakers in Florida to strengthen anti-bullying laws.[citation needed] However, some experts, like Debbie Johnston, national legislative liasion for Bully Police USA, say that the "laws are there" and that society needs to "have a culture that tells us this is what’s right to do”. The circumstances of Sedwick's death were compared to another Florida teenager that committed suicide after aggressive bullying seven years before. Others[according to whom?] have said that, “The problem is not the kids reporting (suicidal thoughts and bullying), the problem is usually the adults who do not listen and follow up.”[21] Others have said that parents need to have a greater idea of what their children are doing, both on and off-line, because teenagers cannot self-regulate.[22]

Sedwick's mother established the Rebecca Sedwick Funeral Fund and Anti-Bullying Campaign, receiving donations to support anti-bullying awareness education and programs for children and teens with mental health problems.[23] The campaign's goal was to raise $5,400 to pay for the costs of Rebecca’s funeral, with any additional funds being donated to The Jaylens Challenge Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and prevention of bullying through education and community service.[23]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Rebecca Ann "Becca" Sedwick (2000-2013) - Find A". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  2. CNN, By Kelly Wallace,. "Rebecca Sedwick suicide: Police file raises questions about bullying - CNN". CNN. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  3. "Rebecca Sedwick's family files lawsuit in bullying death". Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  4. Stefan, Susan (2016). Rational Suicide, Irrational Laws: Examining Current Approaches to Suicide in Policy and Law. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199981199. 
  5. Kuruvilla, Carol. "Rebecca Sedwick case: Both suicide victim and bully grew up in 'disturbing' family environments, cop says  - NY Daily News". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Rebecca Sedwick Case: Bullied girl and her tormentor both grew up in "disturbing" family situations, says sheriff". Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Borges, Neyda. "The Rise Of Cyberbullying: The Case Of Rebecca Sedwick". Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  8. "Two girls arrested on bullying charges after suicide". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  9. Alvarez, Lizette. "Girl's Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies". Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  10. "Who Are You Calling a Bully?". Cosmopolitan. 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  11. "Criminal Charges Filed Against Two Involved in Rebecca Sedwick Suicide". Cyberbullying Research Center. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  12. Sherwell, Philip (2013-10-16). "Teenager who killed herself over cyberbullying sparks soul searching in US". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  13. "Cyberbullying investigated in death of Florida girl - NBC News". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  14. "Rebecca Sedwick suicide: Two teens arrested over death of bullied girl". UPI. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  15. "Mother Of 12-Year-Old Girl Who Killed Herself Will Sue Teen Bullies". HuffPost Canada. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  16. "Two girls arrested in Rebecca Sedwick bullying death". Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  17. "Rebecca Sedwick". miami.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  18. "US girls charged in 'bullying death'". BBC News. 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  19. Stennett, Desiree. "Lawsuit: Polk investigation into Rebecca Sedwick's suicide was 'witch hunt, publicity stunt'". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  20. "2 teens charged in Florida after bullied girl's suicide". Retrieved 2018-08-01. 
  21. "Rebecca Sedwick suicide: Parents to blame for their bullying children?". Christian Science Monitor. 2013-10-16. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2018-08-17. 
  22. "Lessons learned from latest cyberbullying tragedy". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-08-17. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Rebecca Sedwick Funeral Fund and Anti-Bullying Campaign". Indiegogo. Retrieved 2018-08-19. 

External links[edit | edit source]


Category:2000 births Category:2013 deaths Category:2013 in Florida Category:Bullycide Category:Deaths by person Category:Female suicides Category:High school students who committed suicide Category:Victims of cyberbullying Category:Suicides in Florida


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