Timeline

Bullycide: A brief history of the Phoebe Prince phenomenon

Phoebe Prince isn't the first teenager "bullied to death" by callous classmates. A look back at some other notable (and legally significant) cases

The suicide of Phoebe Prince has familiarized Americans with the term "bullycide," but unfortunately, the phenomenon of adolescent suicide linked to bullying is not new. By many accounts, it's getting worse, as social networking and text-messaging have expanded the bully's toolkit: Studies show that between 33 percent and 42 percent of kids say they've been attacked or humiliated online. The Week looks back at some key incidents in the sad history of "bullycide":

Jared HighDied: September, 1998High, 13, shot himself five months after an older boy severely beat him up in the gym of his Pasco, WA, middle school. In those intervening months, Jared couldn't sleep, heard voices, and grew increasingly depressed, says his mom, Brenda High, who's since become a leading anti-bullying advocate. She has compiled several stories in a book, Bullycide in America. (Daily Beast, JaredStory.com)

Ryan HalliganDied: October, 2003Halligan, 13, hanged himself after years of bullying. According to his father, John Halligan, Ryan had been able to stave off physical assaults after learning Taebo kick-boxing techniques, but was eventually overwhelmed by psychological harassment at his Essex Junction, VT, middle school. After Ryan's suicide, John discovered instant-message archives revealing that one so-called "friend" had spread a rumor that Ryan was gay; a female schoolmate had flirted with Ryan to gather embarrassing secrets, only to broadcast them. John Halligan became an early proponent of anti-cyber-bullying legislation. (Wikipedia, RyanPatrickHalligan.com)

Megan MeierDied: October 2006In the first high-profile case of cyber-bullying, Missouri teenager Megan Meier hanged herself weeks before her 14th birthday, after she was cruelly "dumped" by a fictitious boy, "Josh Evans," with whom she'd corresponded via MySpace and IM. In his final message, "Josh" wrote: "You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you." Josh, it turned out, had been created by a friend's mom, Lori Drew, reportedly to "mess with" Megan for slighting her daughter. Vilified by the media, Drew was convicted, then acquitted, of federal misdemeanor charges related to Megan's suicide. The case has prompted several cyber-bullying laws. (Fox News, Wikipedia)

Eric MohatDied: March 2007Mohat, 17, was the third student at Ohio's Mentor High School to kill himself in his school year. His suicide followed years of taunting — provoked, it seems, by his odd physique (at 6'1" and 112 pounds, he was nicknamed "Twiggy") and his defiant tendencies to wear pink and attend school with a stuffed lemur "velcro'ed" to his arm. A classmate reportedly told him: "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself? It's not like anybody would care." Eric's parents sued the school district, alleging that it had been aware of the bullying but failed to take action — and that its existing policies (based on the Olweus Anti-Bullying Program) were ineffective. (CBS News, Daily Beast)

Carl Walker-HooverDied: April 2009While Phoebe Prince's death has increased pressure on the Massachusetts legislature to pass its pending anti-bullying law, the law itself was prompted by Carl's suicide in Boston.  At just 11, Carl hanged himself using an extension cord after being tormented for months by bullies who called him "gay." (Boston Channel, ABC News)

Alexis Skye PilkingtonDied: March 21, 2010The Long Island, NY, 17-year-old teenager killed herself after receiving vicious, anonymous attacks via the social networking site FormSpring.me. In a dark, new twist to the bullycide phenomenon, Alexis is still being taunted after her death by anonymous posts on a memorial Facebook page set up in her honor. Police are currently investigating what role cyber-bullying may have played in her suicide. (CBS News, Wayland Student Press)

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