Nova Scotia Teen Commits Suicide After Rape, Bullying

Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Nova Scotia, died this past Sunday in a hospital, after attempting suicide on Thursday. Her mother stated that a rape in 2011 and subsequent bullying led to her daughter's suicide.

In 2011, Rehtaeh Parsons attended a party where she consumed enough vodka to not remember most of the evening. She recalls throwing up out of a window. Four boys then raped her; one of the boys allegedly yelled, "take a picture, take a picture." According to Rehtaeh's mother, "That picture began to circulate in her school and community three days later."

The picture prompted a torrent of online bullying as well as verbal abuse at her school. When Rehtaeh confessed the incident to her mother a few days later, they called emergency health services as well the police. After a year of investigations, the police told her it was a case of "he said, she said," without enough evidence to press charges. They told the family that though she was underage, the photographs were not a criminal issue.

The family moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax. Leah Parsons reports that her daughter attempted to maintain high spirits, but was depressed:

"Every text, every negative thing she would read to me. It was hard. She tried and she kept trying... She was never left alone. Her friends turned against her, people harassed her, boys she didn't know started texting her and Facebooking asking her to have sex with them since she had had sex with their friends. It just never stopped."

Rehtaeh admitted herself to a hospital in March because of suicidal thoughts. She attempted suicide on Thursday and was taken off life support on Sunday. Parsons has created a memorial page for her daughter, where she wrote:

"She made my life complete. When Rehtaeh was born, I dedicated everything to her and promised her the world. Others in this world took that away from her."

[CBC, image via Rehtaeh Parsons's Facebook Memorial Page]