On November 29, 2016, 18-year-old Brandy Vela killed herself in front of her own family. Her family claims that her suicide was the result of relentless bullying, most of which was about her weight.
“They would make dating websites of her, and they would put her number and they would put her picture (on the sites), and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her,” said Jacqueline Vela, Brandy’s older sister.
Brandy reached out to several people for help, including school officials and law enforcement. However, there wasn’t much authorities could do since the bullying took place online and the source was untraceable.
“We have lots of incident reports, and they always say the same thing: they can’t do anything about it,” said Jacqueline Vela.
And so Brandy saw no other way out. On Tuesday, November 29, she sent an email to her family members informing them that she was going to kill herself. Her family members raced home and found her alive.
“We tried to persuade her to put the gun down, but she was determined,” said Raul Vela, Brandy’s father. “She said she’d come too far to turn back. It was very unfortunate that I had to see that. It’s hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless.”
Brandy shot herself in the chest and died instantly. Her story is absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s touched many people from around the country. But although it’s sad, in many ways it’s also infuriating to know that this could have been prevented.
I mean, seriously, how many people have to commit suicide before we finally enact some anti-bullying laws? How come it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer, but not illegal to impersonate a regular person? If laws are meant to protect people, then why aren’t we protecting our children least of all?
This has to stop, but in order for it to stop, we all need to do our part and write about our concerns to our state representatives. I know I will be, will you join me in this fight?