Hope Witsell was just beginning the journey from child to teen. The middle-school student had a tight-knit group of friends, the requisite poster of “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson and big plans to become a landscaper when she grew up.
But one impetuous move robbed Hope of her childhood, and eventually, her life. The 13-year-old Florida girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy in hope of gaining his attention. Instead, she got the attention of her school, as well as the high school nearby.
The incessant bullying by classmates that followed when the photo spread put an emotional weight upon Hope that she ultimately could not bear.
Hope Witsell hanged herself in her bedroom 11 weeks ago.
Her death is only the second known case of a suicide linked to bullying after “sexting” — the practice of transmitting sexual messages or images electronically. In March, 18-year-old Jesse Logan killed herself in the face of a barrage of taunts when an ex-boyfriend forwarded explicit photos of her following their split.