Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, Committed Suicide After Photo Of Her Rape Was Distributed Around School
There are no words.
Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old girl from Nova Scotia, Canada, attempted to commit suicide last week after she was allegedly raped at a party and had a photograph of her rape passed around to her classmates. Rehtaeh’s family removed her from life support on Sunday.
According to Rehtaeh’s mother, Leah Parsons, who is speaking to the media, her daughter was allegedly raped in November 2011 at a party with other teens. It’s unclear exactly what happened because Rehtaeh was drinking vodka and vomiting, but according to CBC, a photograph of Rehtaeh being raped was taken during the night and circulated around Cole Harbour District High School three days later. She started getting bullied on social media and from her classmates. That’s when Rehtaeh told her mother about the rape and they contacted the police.
But after a yearlong investigation, Rehtaeh’s mother said the police called it a “he said she said” case and said they could not press charges because the photographs were not a crime. After this, the family moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax so she could attend a new school ; still, her daughter plunged into a depression. Rehtaeh first admitted herself to a hospital in March for suicidal thoughts. Last Thursday, she attempted to commit suicide again. She badly injured herself, leading her family to decide to remove her from life support.
“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,” her mother told CBC. Her daughter was also continually called a “slut.”
Leah Parsons is now criticizing police for how they handled the investigation, accusing them of not interviewing the four boys who were involved in the rape of her daughter until “much, much later.” She also does not understand why the photograph of her 15-year-old child was not considered child pornography. On a Facebook page, her mom wrote this memorial:
Rehtaeh is gone today because of The four boys that thought that raping a 15yr old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun. Secondly, All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl.
Our thoughts are with her family.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK and is a confidential, 24/7 free hotline.