HUDSON – Pasco County authorities say a 16-year-old Hudson girl took her own life Sunday night. Friends of the Jessica Laney say bullying through social media played a major role.
An investigation into her suicide is underway.
Laney lived in Hudson, where friends say she attended Fivay High School and played soccer.
But when she was off the field, she spent time online, maintaining blogs on popular social network site Tumblr, and Ask.fm, a site where people could ask questions and make comments anonymously.
Valerie Canales, who calls Laney a friend, said people used the Ask.fm format to bully the victim.
If you take a look at Laney’s Ask.fm page, Jessicamarieee1, some of the anonymous questions asked are innocent enough, talking about boys, and even comments praising her beauty.
But her page is also peppered with disparaging comments, calling her fat and a loser.
One visitor asked her, “Can you kill yourself already?” and another commented “nobody even cares about you”.
While friends speculate that cruel treatment is what pushed 16-year-old Jessica Laney over the edge, an official from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says neither Laney’s parents nor Laney’s boyfriend were aware of any bullying in her life.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to the Jessica Marie Laney’s family as they deal with their loss… (Pasco County Sheriff’s Office) is not aware of any formal complaint to the Pasco School District or PSO about her being bullied,” said Doug Tobin, Public Information Officer for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
Canales wrote to ABC Action News, saying she wants to spread the word about what she thinks happened to her friend, and she wants the Ask.fm site shut down.
“…last night, my friend Jessica Laney took her life. She was constantly bullied and bullied. And she was pushed and pushed to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore. And if you could spread the word about the website ask.fm, how it needs to be shut down, that would be amazing too. Ask.fm is a website where people can ask anonymous questions to anyone they want. And thats how Jessica was constantly put down and bullied. She was a beautiful girl everyone loved her. Shes gonna be missed. We have to put an end to bullying. Please help…” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Officials say Laney hung herself. She was pronounced dead at 11:26 p.m. Sunday night.
A RIP Jessica Laney Facebook page was created in her honor Monday. http://www.facebook.com/pages/RIP-Jessica-Laney/295483590573080
Poster Tonia Tipton said Laney transferred from Hudson High to Fivay High due to bullying at school. Tipton wrote that the soccer team at Fivay wanted to honor her at a game planned for last night, but due to severe weather the game was rained out. She proposes that both schools Hudson High and Fivay High come together to honor Laney’s memory.
The case is classified as a suicide, as the sheriff’s office continues to investigate the events that led to her death.
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