Immigrant Teen Taunted by Cyberbullies Hangs Herself
Irish family came here to discover America.
Jan. 26, 2010— -- Even in death, Phoebe Prince was bullied. On a memorial page dedicated to the Massachusetts teen who had recently committed suicide, Facebook members left taunting comments that had to be removed.
The 15-year-old -- a recent immigrant from Ireland with a pretty face and a soft brogue -- was found dead in her South Hadley home Jan. 14, according to police.
Afterward, her fellow students came forward to tell school officials that Prince had been teased incessantly, taunted by text messages and harassed on social networking sites like Facebook.
"It's heart-wrenching," said South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie. "She had only moved here last summer."
"We are looking at all factors," said LaBrie, who was assisting the Northwest District Attorney's office with an investigation into Prince's death.
LaBrie refused to discuss the details of Prince's suicide out of "respect for the family's privacy.
"It's tremendously emotionally draining on the family and the whole community right now," he told ABCNews.com. "It's such a sad thing."
Many in the suburban community of about 17,000 in western Massachusetts was in shock after learning that Prince had reportedly hung herself just days after accepting a date to a high school dance.
In a letter to parents, Principal Daniel Smith called Prince "smart, charming, and as is the case with many teenagers, complicated. ... We will never know the specific reasons why she chose to take her life.''
Prince is not the only case of apparent bullying that has sparked national headlines.
In 2006, Megan Meier killed herself after the mother of a former friend created a fictitious profile to harass the Missouri 13-year-old. Three years earlier, 13-year-old Ryan Patrick Halligan of Vermont hung himself after he'd been bullied online.
Just this week in Lewisville, Texas, a 9-year-old boy hung himself in the nurse's bathroom at his elementary school.
"It's just sad. I can't imagine what would make a 9-year-old boy feel this way," Stephanie Rodriguez, the school's PTA treasurer, told ABC affiliate WFAA television.
This is apparently the second high-profile suicide bullying case in Massachusetts in the past year. In nearby Springfield, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hung himself with an extension cord after bullies repeatedly called him gay.
In the case of Phoebe Prince, the family recently relocated from a tiny village in the west of Ireland. But she had trouble adjusting to her new school and became the victim of incessant bullying by classmates.
"The real problem now is the texting stuff and the cyberbullying,'' South Hadley School Superintendent Gus A. Sayer told the Boston Globe. "Some kids can be very mean towards one another using that medium.''
Sayer and other officials at the 700-student high school did not return calls from ABCNews.com.
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