Brandy Vela, an 18-year-old in Texas City, Texas, killed herself in front of her family after facing relentless cyberbullying. The troubled teen put a gun to her chest and fired while her family tried to talk her down.
Her family became concerned after Brandy's sister Jackie received an alarming text message that read: “I love you so much, please remember that, and I’m sorry for everything.” Jackie, her parents, and her grandparents rushed to help Brandy, but failed to convince her not to end her life.
Jackie has since gone on to discuss the ways that Brandy was bullied online leading to her suicide. “People would make up fake Facebook accounts and they would message her and she wouldn’t respond and they would still come at her,” Jackie said.
“They would say really, really mean things like, ‘Why are you still here?’ They would call her fat and ugly. She was beautiful, absolutely beautiful; the only thing people could find to pick on her was her weight.”
Police were notified about the unforgiving bullying prior to the suicide but could not provide assistance. “They couldn’t do anything because [the suspects] used an app and it wasn’t traceable and they couldn’t do something until something happened, like they fight,” Jackie said.
“Cyberbullying is completely different than bullying because it uses electronic technology instead of face-to-face. Today’s young adults and teenagers have grown up with technology and they have access to it 24/7. Many times they become very bold over technology and text things they would never say directly to someone’s face,” said Melissa Tortorici, the communications director for the Texas City Independent School District where Brandy was a high school senior. “It’s extremely difficult to stop someone from sending messages when apps make it easy to remain anonymous.”
Authorities are now investigating the situation but no suspects are in custody. Brandy's organs were harvested for donation.