Hannah Smith, 14, killed herself on Friday, August 2, in her Lutterworth, England, home. She has become one of the dozens of young people around the world who committed suicide after being bullied on the Internet, specifically social media.
Here’s what you should know about this tragic event:
1. She Was Being Bullied on Ask.fm
According to The Daily Mail, 14-year-old Hannah Smith was being bullied for months before her death, with people repeatedly saying things on her Ask.fm page like, “u ugly f*** go die evry1 wud be happy,” or, “fat self harmin’ c***.”
Ask.fm is a Latvian-based site that allows people to anonymously post questions on a person’s page. Because the website allows users to post questions anonymously, it has become known as a hotbed of bullying.
2. She Hanged Herself
Smith hanged herself early Friday morning, and the police were called to her home around 6:45 a.m. that day. A spokesperson for the Leicestershire police said this weekend:
The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the Coroner. Officers acting on behalf of the Coroner have secured a computer and a mobile phone as part of the Coroner’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the unexpected death
3. She Posted a Cry-for-Help Picture
Hannah posted the picture above to her Facebook page on Thursday, less than 24 hours before she killed herself.
4. Ask.fm Is Implicated in Many Suicides
— i follow back (@get_graceful) August 4, 2013
In the three years since Ask.fm has been launched, it has been connected with the suicides of at least four teens. The first were Irish teens Ciara Pugsley, 15, and Erin Gallagher, 13, who both killed themselves in 2012 after being bullied on Ask.fm..
Jessica Laney, from Hudson, Florida, hanged herself after she had been bullied on the site and her family reportedly ignored her pain. She was 16 years old.
Josh Unsworth, 15, hanged himself behind his house in Lancashire after being harassed by for months by bullies on the site.
Now, sadly, Hannah Smith is added to this list.
5. Hannah’s Dad Signed a Petition to Bring Down Ask.fm
A petition on Change.org to take down Ask.fm was created after the death of 16-year-old Florida resident Jessica Laney.
The petition currently has around 6,000 signatures. Many of the most recent signers were friends and family of Hannah Smith. Her father signed the petition and you can see his post above.
6. Her Boyfriend Posted a Heartbreaking Message
A boy who the Daily Mail is calling Smith’s boyfriend posted to Facebook a picture of her on Friday along with the heartbreaking text:
R.I.P Hannah Jayne Louise May Smith. Heaven has gained a beautiful angel. Loads of people will miss you cuss of your amazing personality and just for being amazing. we will all miss you being around. you dint deserve it n people calling your uncle and bullying you. cant stop crying miss you so much beautiful rip :( love you hannah
7. The Website Does Not Monitor Comments
Ask.fm is open to anyone over 13-years-old and allows people to ask anonymous, and often sexual or violent in nature, question to a person’s page.
In there terms of service, the website has the objectionable policy that it does not review comments. It says:
You understand that in using the ask.fm service you may encounter content that may be deemed objectionable, obscene or in poor taste, which content may or may not be identified as having explicit language. The ask.fm service allows for anonymous content which ask.fm does not monitor. You agree to use the ask.fm service at your own risk and that ask.fm shall have no liability to you for content that you may find objectionable, obscene or in poor taste.
8. Meanwhile, An Italian Teenager’s Family is Threatening to Sue Facebook
Carolina Picchio was an Italian teenager who killed herself at 14-years-old due to the constant abuse she was being objected to on Facebook.
Francesco Saluzzo, an Italian lawyer from the same region as Picchio, has been speaking publicly about taking legal action against Facebook. The Picchio family claims to have reportedly reported offensive comments on Carolina’s Facebook page, but the company failed to take any action.
9. Trolls Are Running Rampant This Week
This week marks one of the worst weeks in internet history for cyber bullying and threats. At least four female journalists have been sent bomb threats via Twitter this week and the slew of abuse heaped on feminist activists and journalists has been monumental.
10. Twitter is Stepping Up Abuse Reporting
As social media websites are increasingly being found complicit in the bullying that inhabits their pages, Twitter has decided after this week to take a stand. This week, Twitter UK announced that the micro-blogging platform would be introducing a “report abuse” button on both its app and site.
If only more websites would do something similar.