Alexis Pilkington: Suicide Linked to Cyberbullying?
Alexis Pilkington Committed Suicide on March 21st, But Disturbing Reports Are Surfacing That She was Harrassed by Cyberbullies and That May be Connected to Her Death
Alexis Pilkington was described by many as a 'smart, attractive girl' and a star soccer player for West Islip Senior High School, so news of her suicide came as a shock to those that knew her well.
However, disturbing reports are now surfacing of nasty messages posted about Alexis Pilkington online before and after her death and police are considering looking in to whether these messages may have contributed to Alexis' suicide in any way according to the New York Daily News. When we wrote our original story about Alexis' death, we even received an anonymous comment that said 'lol dead'. We decided to leave it up as an example of the insensitivity that seems to be building online towards this young girl's tragic death.
On a number of social networking sites, including Facebook and one called Formspring.me, there were a number of messages and postmortem messages addressed to and about Alexis, only deepening the pain for her family and friends.
Alexis' mom thinks that cyberbulling was not to blame for her daughter's suicide however:
"I believe in my heart that cyberbullying wasn't the cause of Lexi's death," said her mother, Paula Pilkington. "This is a mistake."
Police have said they will take action if necessary and are monitoring the situation:
"Investigators are monitoring the postings and will take action if any communication is determined to be of a criminal nature," Suffolk County Deputy Chief of Detectives Frank Stallone said yesterday.
According to the HuffingtonPost, the father of one of Alexis' friends, Michael Stracuzza, said that he is taking account of the situation and sending all the harassing posts to prosecutors.
“It’s the effect the posts have on those who are mourning that poor girl’s death,” said Stracuzza, whose 18-year-old daughter Chanelle was upset after seeing the messages. “This is what needs to be addressed. Children want to mourn their friend, and there are posts of photos with nooses around her neck. It’s disgusting and heartless.”
Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, said that the company does not allow cyberbullying and will disable any accounts if that member is intimidating others in any way.
Formspring.me said that they will also work with authorities to help prosecute any criminal acts using their system.
Alexis' parents have said that the outpouring of personal support for them and their family has been amazing however, and stand by their thoughts that cyberbulling did not contribue to their daughter's death.
According to CyberBully Alert, over 40% of teenagers online in the United States have been bullied in some way on the Internet, and girls are more likely than boys to be targets of cyberbullying. They report that only 10% of that number tell their parents. Social networking sites are among some of the most common cyberbullying sites.