Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A tale that is shocking of attack within the Digital Age

Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A tale that is shocking of attack within the Digital Age

Nina Burleigh

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Sexting Shame & Suicide

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

O n the day that is last of life, Audrie Pott wandered by way of a crucible of teenage torment. A curvaceous sophomore at Saratoga senior high school, dressed up in the cool-girl’s uniform of the low-cut top and supershort dress, she seemed exactly like constantly, but inside she ended up being quivering with humiliation. Within the since school had started, girls had been giving her looks, and guys had congregated around phones, smirking week. On Twitter, messages had been pinging into her inbox, each one of these delivering another gut punch: “shit went down ahah jk i bet u already got enough ppl talking about any of it so ill keep it to myself haha….

“honestly like really no laughing matter everybody else knows…. ”

“u were one horny mofo. ”

A grown-up monitor handed her a violation that is dress-code her dress ended up being too short – and even though all of the girls in her own class dressed this way and monitors seldom objected. She cut exactly exactly exactly what classes she could, blowing down chemistry for just two times in a row, looking in order to avoid confrontations with disapproving girlfriends. Then Kathy Atabakhsh, certainly one of her close friends, tore into her in the college quad, accusing her of consuming, of forgetting whom she ended up being, to become someone else. “She was indeed, literally, the greatest individual you can fulfill – constantly honest and trustworthy, ” Kathy says, recalling the episode very nearly per year later on. “And I became therefore upset that she had changed. It had been hard for her to know that from a detailed buddy. ” She recalls the words that are last believed to Audrie. “You need certainly to return to truth, ” Kathy informed her.


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At lunchtime, Audrie texted her mother at the job: “Mom, please choose me up. ” Sheila Pott, a mortgage-loan officer, asked why and whether Audrie couldn’t watch for her in order to complete a company conference. Audrie was insistent, after which stopped texts that are answering.

Whenever Sheila pulled up in her own vehicle later that Monday afternoon on September 10th, 2012, Audrie jumped in but stayed silent regarding the drive home that is short. Sheila ended up being familiar with her 15-year-old daughter’s emotions and stopped pushing her. If they surely got to their ranch-style house, where that they had been living alone together since Sheila had split along with her boyfriend the season before, Audrie retreated to her bed room, having its Audrey Hepburn poster and silk-upholstered screen chair. Around 20 mins passed away before Sheila chose to check up on her child. She wandered throughout the kitchen area and along the long carpeted hallway to your restroom home Audrie’s that is adjoining space. The doorway had been locked. Audrie didn’t response. Sheila knocked and knocked once again. One thing about a panic was pushed by the silence key inside her. She grabbed the thing that is first can find to jimmy the lock – the tiny steel pole at the conclusion of her phone’s earplug – and jammed it to the doorknob. Flinging the hinged home available, she confronted a sight now completely etched inside her memory. When you look at the pale-peach restroom, featuring its shell-shaped sink, gold fixtures and slim bathtub, her only youngster was hanging from the gear connected to the shower head, mascara streaking her face.

Sheila sprinted along the hall, back in your kitchen, grabbed a knife and down cut her daughter, wanting to keep in mind how exactly to perform CPR while dialing 911. Paramedics arrived in just a minutes that are few. They restarted Audrie’s heart, however it was far too late. The brown-eyed woman whom liked horses, art and pranks could not inhale on her own again.

There clearly was no note, absolutely nothing to explain why her popular and pretty child had done it. Within the medical center, Sheila started retracing current activities, hunting for some clue in regards to what might have pressed her child to just take her very own life. She seriously considered Audrie’s silence that is strange a single day after a sleepover the weekend before. And she remembered the green ink she’d noticed around her daughter’s cleavage, strange markings that Audrie had refused to describe.

S aratoga senior high school, along with its country-club-worthy­quad, Olympic-size pool that is swimming plush tennis courts, is certainly one of those affluent Ca schools US teens recognize from films and television. Found in the heart of Silicon Valley, the school hosts high-achieving kids of moms and dads working at Apple, e-bay, Netflix along with other technology corporations headquartered within 50 kilometers. In the event that Saratoga Falcons would not regularly field an absolute soccer group, there’s consolation when you look at the proven fact that each graduating class has propelled a large number of children into Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley.

Summer time before her death, Audrie had started initially to alter, getting off the young kids she’d hung out with since center college. She had started initially to take in a had and little dated a somewhat older man. Whenever she drank, the self-consciousness which had afflicted her since junior high melted away. She loosened up. Often, she loosened up a whole lot.

On work Day week-end of this brand new college 12 months, Audrie’s friend, let’s call her “Sara” (lots of the children’ names in this tale have now been changed to guard their identities), stated her moms and dads had been away, leaving their white cottage-style house or apartment with its long green yard inside her care. Sara – 15, pretty, slim and that is blond Audrie had become close that summer time and had been checking out a brand new world of boys, containers and tiny events, ideally at parent-free homes, that the Saratoga kids call “kickbacks. ”

That Sunday, Sara informed her moms and dads that she would definitely be resting over at Audrie’s, and Audrie informed her mother that she’d be resting over at Sara’s. Whenever Sheila drove Audrie to Sara’s, she assumed girls could be investing the night within their jammies at the tv, or giggling over ice cream and Facebook. But Sara had currently texted around a dozen buddies to drop in for her kickback.

Ultimately, 11 children turned up, most of them to sip vodka and Gatorade cocktails. All of them belonged with their class’s clique that is popular girls dressed as provocatively as you possibly can, also by the free criteria of Ca high schools. “See-through shorts and thongs pulled up, shorts pulled down, ” recalls a mature woman. “That’s just just what the girls that are‘cool wore. ” The guys they hung down with preferred a uniform locally dubbed “swagfag” – snapback hat, PacSun tank tops, knee-length chino shorts and Vans.

A kids that are few brought some containers of alcohol – rum taken from Safeway, vodka purchased for them by a grown-up at an alcohol shop. They fundamentally guzzled a container of tequila that Sara’s moms and dads kept in their own personal case. The mixer of preference ended up being Gatorade, or downed straight. Audrie drank most difficult of all of the.

When Audrie’s old middle-school friends, Kathy, Amanda Le and another girl, appeared around 9 p.m., there was clearly no music, simply the noise of sloppy-drunk talk. Audrie had been stumbling and incoherent, taking shots and making away with various guys in the living-room sofa. Her buddies had been appalled. “I never ever saw, I’d simply learned about times she had gotten drunk, ” says Kathy. “She had been therefore unique of the way I knew her become. We noticed exactly what ended up being taking place, and so they didn’t know very well what they certainly were doing. Because we had been sober, ”

Sara seemed therefore trashed whenever she greeted them during the home that Kathy does not think her classmate also respected her. “There ended up being stuff all over the tables, ” Kathy says. “Superdirty. That they had meals and a bunch that is whole of every-where. People falling over, perambulating. At some time, I happened to be like, we are simply sitting right here. ‘ Personally I think superuncomfortable, everyone’s so trashed and’ therefore we left. ”

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