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When Sexting Leads to Suicide

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We've told you about the teen trend of "sexting" -- where girls typically send naked pics of themselves to guys on their phone, who then forward them all over school. Tragically, the first "sexting suicide" has now occurred.

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Jesse Logan sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent them to hundreds of other students. The girls at school harassed her, calling her a slut and a whore. She was miserable and depressed, afraid even to go to school.

Last July, Jessica Logan hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 18.

Last fall, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed teens and young adults about sexting -- sending sexually charged material via cell phone text messages -- or posting such materials online. The results revealed that 39% of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48% reported receiving such messages.

Parry Aftab, an Internet security expert and activist in the battle to protect teens from the dangers that lurk in cyberspace, said that it is normal kids just like Jesse who fall victim to the perils of the Internet and the easy exchange of information on cell phones.

"We talked about her being a good kid, a normal kid. Those are most of the ones that are sending out those images," she said. "44% of the boys say that they've seen sexual images of girls in their school, and about 15% of them are disseminating those images when they break up with the girls."

Even though her mom knew she was being bullied, she had no idea she was suicidal. Jesse told her mother there were pictures involved and that a group of younger girls who had received them were harassing her, calling her vicious names, even throwing objects at her. But she didn't realize the full extent of her daughter's despair.

Dr. Lisa Boesky, author of "When to Worry: How to Tell if Your Teen Needs Help--and What to Do About It," says the following behaviors are important "warning signs" of teens who may be thinking about ending their lives:

  • Gives away possessions of value
  • Becomes withdrawn and isolated
  • Exhibits abrupt personality change
  • Drops out of usual routine
  • Neglects hygiene
  • Engages in self-destructive or risky behavior
  • Makes statements about suicide, dying, or being "gone"
  • Looks or sounds like feelings of depression are deepening
  • Is curious, fascinated, or preoccupied with death
  • Talks about feeling inadequate, hopeless, or guilty

Other signs moms should be aware of include statements like: "I won't be a problem for you much longer," '"I wish I were dead," "You'd be better off without me," "You probably wish I would just die."

Certain risk factors also increase a teen's suicide risk, says Dr. Lisa. If your teen suffers from a mental health disorder, uses alcohol/drugs, recently experienced a major stressor, is disruptive or aggressive, has been arrested, or is a perfectionist, be particularly vigilant. Teens who end their lives typically have a combination of risk factors AND warning signs.

If your teen is talking about wanting to die or has made a suicide attempt, he or she must be attended to immediately. Any suicide attempt -- no matter how "harmless" it seems -- requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified mental health professional who is knowledgeable about teen suicide.

The evaluation should determine:

  1. your teen's level of risk
  2. whether he or she suffers from a mental health or substance abuse disorder
  3. what current stressors are present
  4. which strategies need to be in place to ensure his or her safety

Click here to download Dr. Boesky's suicide prevention checklist and tips.



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41 comments so far | Post a comment now
Peggy Gorman March 9, 2009, 1:15 PM

This is so sad

Ashley  March 9, 2009, 1:48 PM

that’s horrible he needs to be charged because he is the reason behind that girls death

oh please March 9, 2009, 4:46 PM

Are you serious ashley? The only person responsible for that idiots death is herself. Yes it is a sad story but no one forced her to send those pictures. The lesson learned here should be to not send nude pictures of yourself to ANYONE! If anyone is charged in this death, what message are we sending to young girls? That it’s okay to send nude pictures of yourself to anyone and then sue them if/when they share them with other people. Oh please. I bet her parents are paying for the phone she used, so why don’t we go after them for child pornography charges while were at it. Stop looking for someone to blame. Take responsibilty for your own actions.

sunshine March 9, 2009, 5:00 PM

Ashley I agree with you to an extent. I feel she really thought that since she was probally having sex with this boyfriend that he was LOYAL. It is sad, and to “oh please” you are a little right but sound a little heartless. You must be perfect

Molly March 9, 2009, 5:57 PM

I commented earlier but apparently my comment wasn’t approved. This is an epidemic, and it really is no one’s fault but her own that she comitted suicide, yet, she would not have if she hadn’t felt like it was a solution to her problems. Parents need to take a more active role in their childrens lives and make sure that they are not the bullies and not the victims. One stupid mistake turned out like this…it’s sad, but also a wake up call for parents, and children.

boCHy March 9, 2009, 8:57 PM

This is terrible, reporting. It has nothing to do with ‘sexting,’ which isn’t even a word. The report left out that her best friend committed suicide, and only then did this girl hang herself. But all the time before that, she, miraculously, didn’t feel the need. But somehow it’s still the sexual messages she sent that it still the culprit. This is nothing more than an attempt to exploit a girl suicide to foist some new teen sex story. One grainy picture floating around isn’t enough wasn’t enough to do it. Story to put a damper on the motif.

dude March 10, 2009, 12:05 AM

arrest the people who sold them the cell phones?

susie christiansen March 10, 2009, 1:21 AM

OMG!
Dozens of reasons to point the finger.
Parents need to discuss with their children what can happen if they choose to send Nude pics to others.This report should have had more publicity, I just heard about this story!I called my kids and we all discussed this issue.
There are kids out there that will be responsible with their cell phones,then those that choose to show themselves Nude should expect someone in anger will surely get back at them by sending their nude pics around.
If you play,you pay for your actions!

Kelli March 10, 2009, 11:14 AM

Parents need to take these kids phones away. And these teen girls need to stop being so stupid. What do you think a teenage boy is going to do when they get a naked pic of you on their phone? Think before you act!

Grandmere March 10, 2009, 3:14 PM

This discussion is starting at the end of the problem rather than at the beginning. We can start with the 60’s cult of free love and proceed to dismissal of all suggestions that we try to reintroduce the system of waiting for marriage on the grounds that “teen agers will have sex and there is nothing you can do about it except give them the pill”. If these boys had not seen their girl friends naked they would not expect or ask for nude pictures. Throwing out all the old taboos have resulted in throwing out all the old protections. It’s hard to get back what’s been lost, or rather thrown away, but the present system is failing our girls. Women’s liberation is actually men’s liberation, they can demand anything and get it from some woman.

Rich March 10, 2009, 7:45 PM

The people who sent those pictures all around should be hung themselfs, along with you other idiots who think it was her fault, she was pressured into doing this because she was used, that scumbag ex b/f should get his head kicked in I feel bad for her and her family may she rest in peace. -Rich-

Baylie March 10, 2009, 8:19 PM

This happened to me before. I just never brought it up because I was too afraid. Yes, I was young then, and I was stupid. But think about, when you’re young and desperate; you do stupid things. Only because you think you’re in love. But yes, someone needs to murder that ex boyfriend of her’s, and I mean it. Now, I’m glad someone has brought it up because I’m not the only one in this world that has experienced what I have, although overall I hope she rests in peace.

Anonymous March 10, 2009, 9:24 PM

Ashley, were you ever a teen? Teens clinically have a very poor ability to assess risk, and their knowledge about relationships has no reference so they are unaware that many people are untrustworthy. Though it may not be technically “criminal” to share pics, it is immoral. And the young man who did that, who also doesn’t have the mental maturity to judge repercussions, should also be watched for suicide after indirectly causing someone’s death.

Olivia. March 10, 2009, 9:51 PM

i feel so bad for this girl. she was so pretty and looked so nice. yes i know it was this girls chocie to send the picture but she did it becuase her and her boyfriend trusted eachother and they will only share whatever they do between them. but some guys after they break up they want to get back at them. and he did and caused all this stuff. she thought that she could trust him but she was wrong. that guy is a scumbag . he should get arrested. hope she rests in peacee.

-olivia

sunshine March 11, 2009, 12:22 PM

I think that the boyfriend should be somewhat accountable. He is the one that sent to everyone.Look, the best we can do with our teens is talk, communicate, and trust that they will follow suit. Sometimes, they make stupid mistakes. I told my son that if he ever gets sexting to delete it right away and never to pass this along for it can really hurt someone

GIVE ME A BREAK March 11, 2009, 6:10 PM

This girl killed herself and thats awful.Teens are mean, well most of them but you have to wonder what kind of values she had.Teens love to make fun of other teens,I did it and others did it to me.All of you know how it is in high school.I’m sure this guy did’nt know she would kill herself.She should’nt have sent naked pictures of herself to his phone. It’s sad but this is the world we live in.My son is 18 and knows it all,I’ve tried to talk to him but he could care less,We learn from our mistakes and both of these teens learned a hard lesson.

Mikal March 16, 2009, 10:11 PM

I understand sending pics to others, but when you do, you risk the chance that he or she will send them to others. That being said, when you are young and feel you have lost your entire life, you may take your life. When you forward pics to others YOU take the responsible of those pics. HE should be held responsible for HIS actions, as should she. I wonder if he can sleep at night. HE caused a person to take their life. That will also make your parents proud of you. I agree, do not send out the pics cause you have no control after you hit the send button. Pass them on, and you may also have to live with your actions. He is also to blame. So are you when you forward things on to others. Some things must stop with you.

forgot my name March 20, 2009, 5:08 PM

well this boy that sent the picture was a dumb teenager for sending those pictures. because didnt he think before he sent them that she would get harrassed but it’s sad she got hanged because she was a pretty girl

simonk March 26, 2009, 12:36 PM

i don’t know why oh why kids think it’s cool to send nude pictures to people. i think these girls have to learn some self worth. i can’t really be mad at the guy, if he is around 17 that means he is mentally like 12. what else would a 12 year old do? she should have know better. she wasted such a great gift.

Crazy8 March 29, 2009, 7:40 PM

This is a sad story, but I don’t think it has anything to do with cell phones, or nude pictures or any of the other things mentioned. It is a fact that people have been killing themselves for THOUSANDS of years, for THOUSANDS of reasons, all that seem perfectly snesible to that person. Those of us who do not suufer from depression or any other mental illness will never understand.


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