Cyber-bullying to blame in suicide of Texas teenager, family members say

Source: People
Source: People

The family of a Texas City, Texas, high school student who committed suicide amid a campaign of online harassment this week is pushing for stricter cyberbullying laws, the Associated Press reported.

Brandy Vela shot herself in front of her father Raul Vela after receiving months of abusive messages through an anonymous smartphone app, the elder Vela told the AP, as well as discovering a fake Facebook profile created in her name for the purpose of humiliating her.

Vela changed her cell phone number several times and reported the abuse to police, according to People, but was unable to end the abuse. Texas City Independent School District officials could not determine who was behind the anonymous messages.

"People would make up fake Facebook accounts and they would message her and she wouldn't respond and they would still come at her," her sister, Jackie Vela, told CNN. "They would say really, really mean things like, 'Why are you still here?' They would call her fat and ugly. She was beautiful, absolutely beautiful; the only thing people could find to pick on her was her weight."

According to CNN, authorities have received several tips and are contacting people the family believes are suspects.

"When I was 23, some girls took over my Myspace and it devastated me," friend Marnie Weinstein told People. "It ran me out of a small town of Longview, Texas. For her to be eighteen, so fragile-minded and not ready to handle it, I can't imagine. I wish I could have told her it'd all be okay in the end."

Local CBS affiliate KHOU reported under existing state law, it is already Class B misdemeanor to "send repeated electronic communications to harass, annoy, torment or embarrass someone." San Antonio state Sen. José Menéndez, however, has proposed a law which would require schools to take tougher positions on cyberbullying and expand subpoena powers for officers involved in related investigations.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Meet the Girl Scouts that will earn badges for being cybersecurity experts

They'll soon get badges for coding, cryptography and more.

How to use the Snapchat Map while everyone else continues to be confused about it

Everything you need to know about the new feature.

Planet 10? Scientists may have discovered a hidden planet in our solar system

There could be a ninth — or even 10th — planet hiding out in our solar system.

Scientists created a robot that will iron your clothes for you

Shut up and take my money.

Moth eyes have inspired the touchscreen of the future

It's going to change the anti-reflection game.

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.

Meet the Girl Scouts that will earn badges for being cybersecurity experts

They'll soon get badges for coding, cryptography and more.

How to use the Snapchat Map while everyone else continues to be confused about it

Everything you need to know about the new feature.

Planet 10? Scientists may have discovered a hidden planet in our solar system

There could be a ninth — or even 10th — planet hiding out in our solar system.

Scientists created a robot that will iron your clothes for you

Shut up and take my money.

Moth eyes have inspired the touchscreen of the future

It's going to change the anti-reflection game.

Twitter was flagging tweets including the word "queer" as potentially "offensive content"

Why Twitter put the word "queer" in the same category as violent, sexual imagery.