Dateline special: 2 years since student's suicide
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WHDH) -- It was a tragedy that made national headlines two years ago: a 15-year-old girl from Ireland committed suicide after being bullied by fellow students, and six of them were charged in connection with her death.
It was supposed to be a wonderful American adventure, but five months after 15-year-old phoebe prince arrived from Ireland, she killed herself.
“How could this kid feel such despair that she would take a scarf that her little sister gave her for Christmas and hang herself?” Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen asks.
The answer, former district attorney Elizabeth Scheibel concluded, was that Phoebe had been bullied relentlessly by classmates at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts.
“Our investigation revealed that it was a campaign of tormenting, of making her life miserable,” Scheibel said.
Scheibel says the worst of the bullying began roughly two months before Phoebe's death. She had been seeing a popular football player named Sean. When the relationship soured, Sean encouraged friends to badmouth Phoebe. When she began seeing a new boy, she angered even more classmates.
“A lot of people would snicker and they would say mean things about her -- that she was just sleeping around with people's boyfriends,” student Sharon Vazquez said.
At school, on the last day of her life, the prosecutor says a friend of Sean verbally attacked phoebe on three different occasions. Phoebe began texting friends when she got home.
“At one point Phoebe texted, ‘they might as well have handed me the noose’,” Scheibel said.
Hours later Phoebe killed herself. Her parents -- and others -- wanted to know why the school hadn't done more to protect phoebe who had reported being harassed.
The superintendent says the staff didn't realize how bad the bullying was but that other things may have contributed to phoebe's suicide.
In an unusual move, prosecutors charged six students with crimes related to Phoebe's death. It would be months before they'd know if they were headed to jail.
The special, What Happened to Phoebe Prince, airs Sunday on Dateline. It starts at 7:00 p.m. on 7NBC
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