Bully Survivors Offer Advice Following Teen's Suicide - WFLA News Channel 8

Bully Survivors Offer Advice Following Teen's Suicide

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The reason 16 year old Jessica Laney killed herself is more complicated than any single event can explain, but here's a clue.  Days before her suicide, someone wrote "Can you just kill yourself already" on a social website.

Classmates at Fivay high school say cyber bullies abound.

"Yeah, everyone has at one point in time," said student Cheyanne Sill.

Gabriella an Rij is an anti-bully activist who has reviewed disturbing online comments aimed at Jessica before her death. "Why didn't her friends speak up", said van Rij

Van Rij urges friends family and educators to become active witnesses. She advises parents to monitor online activity or buy software that does it for them. "It would pick up all those words that I can't say on television," she said.

Sarah Ball is a bully victim from Hernando County who became an activist as therapy for herself and to help other kids.  "One time I went to talk at a local church and had a girl come up to me and say thank you so much for coming because that night she had planned to kill herself", said Ball.

Like von Rij, Ball urges kids to take action when they witness bully behavior and to shun websites that enable hate speech.  She's starting something called the hope project which creates a buddy system between older and younger kids.

"I've been trying to get into the Pasco school system for a couple months now and I think to myself I could have helped Jessica."

Eight On Your Side investigated last year's suicide of sun lake high student Kiefer Allen, who shot himself after a humiliating school bus assault, and the attempted suicide of Zach Gray who suffered repeated torment at Zephyrhills High.  In both cases, no one intervened.

Van Rij says the bully problem everywhere has become to serious to ignore.  "Nobody told me ever in my life that I was not worth living and I should commit suicide as we do," said Rij. 

"That's kind of like the punch line nowadays--I got that and I got that repeatedly," Ball said.

With permission from the principal Wednesday teens at Fivay high school wore pink in memory of Jessica.

Without permission they organized a moment to remember her between classes.

The principal said she discouraged the student memorial because she worries too much attention will glorify suicide.

Students say they worry people will forget what happened to Jessica Laney.

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