Bullies use social media to urge 12-year-old to kill herself

(CBS News) LAKELAND, Fla. -- Many of the teenagers who attended Rebecca Ann Sedwick's funeral wore brightly colored ribbons and T-shirts to draw attention to the Internet messages they say convinced the 12-year-old that she was better off dead.

Rebecca Sedwick
CBS

The one message that her mother, Tricia Norman, cannot forget urged Rebecca Ann to kill herself.

"'You haven't killed yourself yet,'" Norman recalled the message saying. "'Go jump off of a building.'"

And that is exactly what Rebecca did, her mother said.

In the hours before Rebecca leaped from a tower, she said goodbye to her closest friends in online messages.

Her mother said that she was angry and hurt that her daughter had not confided in her when the bullying started again. Her daughter had always told her everything, she said.

The worst taunts, which began last year, came from a group of 15 students.

One of the bullying messages that Rebecca Sedwick received
CBS

Her mother said she seemed sadder.

"She went to counseling for about three or four months after that," Tricia Norman said. "Her last appointment, the counselor asked how she felt and she said she thought she was doing a lot better."

Rebecca changed schools, and her mother took her cell phone away and monitored Rebecca's online accounts.

But police say the bullies began to target Rebecca on social media that her mother didn't know about.

Rebecca Sedwick's mother Tricia Norman
CBS

Authorities are looking at whether they can file cyber-stalking charges against the middle-school students.

"Where do they get this hatred from?" Tricia Norman asked. "Who's teaching the hatred to these kids, that they're just going to be that mean to somebody?"

Norman said she wanted the girls responsible to pay for her daughter's death.

"Because they took my baby away, they took her confidence away," she said, crying. "They took her self-worth away. And now she's gone from me."

Rebecca kept a journal, in which she wrote: "How many lives have to be lost until people realize words do matter?"

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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