The last text Raul Vela would ever receive from his 18-year-old daughter Brandy read, “I love you so much. Just remember that please and I’m so sorry for everything.”
As Brandy’s other loved ones began receiving the text, they raced home to put a stop to any rash decisions the high schooler might make. Her older sister was the first to arrive home and found her crying in her bedroom, sitting up against the wall with a gun pointed at her chest.
The teen’s parents and siblings tried finding the right words, but it was too late. She went through with the suicide right in front of them and later died at the hospital.
The family attributes the loss of their daughter to years of cyberbullying. Despite being popular in high school, she faced years of mockery for her weight. A group of her peers had even set up fake social media accounts to harass the young woman.
When the Vela family finally laid their daughter to rest on December 7, they thought the cyberbullying would stop. Horrifyingly, it didn’t.
Two days after the funeral, a Facebook account was created in her name.
Many at first believed that the page was set up by the family, so friends and family began leaving heartfelt messages. Within the first few hours though, horrific messages in response to the girl’s suicide began flooding the page by anonymous accounts. Even in the wake of her death, the cyberbullies were still out to get Brandy.
Brandy wasn’t the only Vela to receive horrendous social media messages in the aftermath of her death. Internet trolls also began attacking her father with comments asking why he didn’t do anything to prevent Brandy from harming herself and getting her the help she needed.
The teen’s father has since blocked his social media accounts and has reported the social media pages to the authorities. The police remain positive that they can trace the abusive accounts and that those responsible will be persecuted.
Raul has since started working on a campaign to get state lawmakers to increase restrictions on social media which would make it harder for anonymous accounts to ruin more lives.
He has already met with community leaders and local legislators while making it his duty to raise awareness as a way of getting justice for his daughter’s death.