COQUITLAM — The suicide death of a Coquitlam student tormented by bullies has not only brought a surge of attention to the issue, it’s resulted in a police and coroners investigation.
On Friday, the Lower Mainland District RCMP announced it was conducting a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Amanda Todd.
“Serious crime teams in Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows are working together, conducting interviews and reviewing any potential contributing factors to her death,” said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen in a statement.
Mounties also noted investigators are actively monitoring social media.
On Thursday, Coquitlam RCMP confirmed investigators were called to a home in Port Coquitlam on Wednesday evening to investigate the sudden death of a teenager.
Just a few weeks earlier, Todd, who was a Grade 10 student at Coquitlam Alternate Basic Education (CABE) Secondary in Coquitlam, posted a video of her experience battling bullies over an incident that occurred a few years back.
The eight-minute black-and-white video shows the teen holding cue cards depicting her specific story.
In an accompanying post she wrote: "I'm struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I'm not doing this for attention. I'm doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I'd rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don't hate, although im sure I'll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I'm still here aren't I ?"
School District 43 officials said the district was aware of the video, noting supports for the student were in place both at the school and in the community. However, the district couldn't provide any background on the student, citing privacy rules.
Though police acknowledge there is significant concern within schools and the wider community regarding the role bullying could have played in this incident, the RCMP said it is too soon for police to comment on this issue in regard to Todd’s death.
The reaction to her death was both swift and broad with thousands of people taking to social media to offer their condolences and outrage over the incident.
A Facebook memorial page "Rest in paradise Amanda Michelle Todd" started Thursday, and by Friday had elicited thousands of comments and more than 34,000 likes.
Politicians were also wading into the issue, including Premier Christy Clark, who posted her own YouTube video denouncing bullying.
The BC Coroners Service, meanwhile, has confirmed that a preliminary investigation into the death of the 15-year-old shows she took her own life.
However, coroner Barb McLintock said Friday the case will be long and complex. Investigators know how she died, but will not release that information.
McLintock said after the review is complete there may be recommendations made on a range of issues, including cyber-bullying, though she noted it would take time given how complicated it can be to deal with the Internet.
A number of resources are available to youth and their parents through the www.deal.org website. Other recommended resources include www.bullying.org or www.cyberbullying.ca.
— With files from the Vancouver Sun