17-year-old Alexis Pilkington of West Islip, NY died of a reported suicide by hanging this Sunday.
In the short time that has passed since her death, a memorial page dedicated to Alexis has drawn over 15,000 fans. (And possibly due to local press reporting in a vague manner on the girl’s death, hackers have managed to successfully use interest in the incident to perpetuate malware.) Since Pilkington’s death, rumors have persisted that “cyberbullying,” particularly over Formspring and Facebook, contributed to her decision to end her life.
Students at the school speaking on the condition of anonymity say Alexis posted a final Facebook update between 1 and 2am local time Saturday, simply stating “done with everything.” No reference was made to any online harassment, but Pilkington’s memorial page is currently plagued with distasteful messages and graphic images of unrelated deaths. Sources who asked to remain unnamed within West Islip High School say the teen was rumored to have been troubled before her death, and that online conflict is widely dismissed by those who knew Alexis as the cause of her depression in the wake of the tragedy.
Although it is unclear if any “cyberbullying” took place prior to Pilkington’s suicide, the media has firmly latched on to the notion that it lead to the girl’s death. It appears that most, if not all, of the current harassment does not stem from actual acquaintances of the girl, but rather internet trolls seeking to cause conflict following Pilkington’s death.
A memorial service is scheduled tomorrow for Alexis Pilkington in West Islip.
UPDATE: Newsday is reporting that thousands of people have pledged to boycott Formspring due to Pilkington’s suicide.