A 12-year-old Florida girl was found dead on Tuesday morning after apparently jumping to her death from the top of an industrial cement silo because she was bullied remorselessly on social media. Last seen leaving her home on the way to school at 6.45 a.m. on Monday morning, Rebecca Ann Sedwick was discovered dead at an abandoned cement factory in Lakeland early on Tuesday.
While police have not officially declared Rebecca’s death suicide, her family fear she took her own life after year and a half of constant bullying which caused her to change her name on one of her social media handles to ‘That Dead Girl’. Her mother, Tricia Norman told Fox 13 in Florida that she reported her daughter missing at 7 p.m. on Monday evening when she failed to return from school. She added that other girls had bullied her daughter so badly online at Crystal Lake Elementary School last year, that she pulled her daughter out to home school her for a while before sending her to Lawton Childs Middle Academy, where she seemed happy.
However, Norman said that the group of five or six girls at Crystal Lake who bullied her on Facebook continued to torment the 12-year-old even after she had left. They would write that she was no good, ugly, stupid and ‘that you should just go and kill yourself’. ‘I guess for whatever reason, they just didn’t like her,’ said Tricia. Indeed, Norman said that she was so incensed by the bullying at Crystal Lake that she filed two complaints to the school. ‘She has been bullied before and people had told her she needed to kill herself,’ Sedwick’s sister, Summer Howard, said to The Ledger. ‘But we all thought she was fine now. No one had known.’ Tragically, Norman said that she was never informed that her daughter did not show up for class on Monday morning because of a problem with Lawton Chiles Middle Academy‘s automated system. In the hours after she was reported missing, deputies searching for her discovered her body at around 2.25 a.m. on the ground at a former Cemex cement site. Summer Howard said she told deputies that her sister had snuck into the site, around half a mile from their home, before and used to climb on the cement silos. Police forensic officers were seen on Tuesday afternoon at the top of one of the cement silos dusting for fingerprints. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ Norman said to The Ledger.
‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I just lost my world. ‘My life is just never going to be the same, I’m missing a big part of it, a huge part of it. The Polk Country Sheriff’s Office revealed that Sedwick had been caught cutting herself and making comments about wanting to hurt herself before Monday, but Norman said she didn’t know the cyber-bullying had resumed. ‘She put on a perfect, happy face;she never told me,’ Norman said to The Ledger. ‘I never had a clue. I mean, she told me last year when she was being bullied but not this year and I have no idea why.’ Norman said that the bullying at Crystal Lake became so bad earlier this year that her daughter was hospitalized with self-inflicted cuts on her arms and legs. ‘When she was being bullied at Crystal Lake Middle, she used to come home every day and tell me how she wasn’t worth anything, that she was ugly, how she was stupid,’ Norman said. ‘And I said, ‘Baby what on earth would make you think that? You’re the most beautiful person I know and the smartest person I know.’ Struggling to deal with her sister’s death, Howard said that even though she was close to Rebecca, she had no idea she was being bullied. ‘She kept it all to herself,’ Howard said. However, once police checked her cell phone they discovered that the bullying had not stopped, especially on Kik Messenger, Instagram and Ask.fm. ‘People just need to stop bullying, period,’ Howard said. ‘You never know whose life you’re affecting.’ An autopsy was completed Tuesday, but results are pending toxicology results, the Sheriff’s Office said.
For support on suicide matters call the National Suicide Prevention Helpine on 1-800-273-8255.
Cyber-Bullying research Summary on Suicide and Cyber-Bullying by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. Cyberbullying Research Center