Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, December 03, 2007

So another woman was also involved in the Megan Meier case

Prosecutor won't bring charges in MySpace suicide

That's two adults who acted immaturely when they conversed with the depressed 13-year-old over MySpace, leading to Megan Meier's suicide, saying something to the effect of the world being a better place without her. The second woman hasn't been named. The prosecutor would obviously like to bring some justice into this case, but harassment statutes for the area don't include online harassment and the stalking statute would require repeated negative contact. Apparently the account used purported to be a 16-year-old boy named Josh, being homeschooled in a nearby town, but was used by a former friend's mother and this 18-year-old to determine if Megan had gossiped about the daughter. Megan was confused by the sudden change from flirting, good interaction to 'Josh' turning on her and saying he'd heard she was mean and didn't want to be her friend.

There's no way to prove that the adults involved intended for the girl to kill herself, even if they knew she was severely depressed. Name-calling isn't really illegal, and there's really no way to prosecute it, authorities said. It just wasn't feasible to try to prove to a jury that there was malicious intent to the degree believed by the parents.

I believe that what the women did was wrong. It was terribly petty and immature and they should have been above taunting a 13-year-old girl with mental problems. I mean, what kind of person does that? There should be a small circle in hell for such people. But I agree that there's really no case and so there's no real justice either. On the other hand, I don't think you can blame Megan's suicide squarely on these women. There were a lot of factors, mainly her own brain chemistry and the tendency for teenagers to magnify any slight. She's not at fault for her suicide--she was far too young and too sick to truly be accountable, but she's certainly a victim of her illness, and that's very sad. The women involved, however, triggered it, as did no doubt her mother, who when shown the exchange berated her daughter for using bad language rather than taking her side, at which point Megan stormed off unbelieving and then she was found hanged a little while later. It must have seemed like a betrayal in her mind. That's the sad thing about depression--no matter how much you watch what you say, you know that at any time something might percolate through the depressed person's mind to make them give up entirely. By all accounts the parents were trying to do the best for their daughter. Perhaps given time she could have blossomed. But she didn't have that time.

This whole story underscores the toll mental illness--particularly mental illness in children--can take on people and their families. And vindictive, petty neighbours certainly don't help.

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