After being blackmailed by a ruthless Nigerian gang and tricked into sending nude pictures of himself, a Northern Ireland teen, 17, committed suicide three days later, according to the Irish Times.
A Nigerian gang tricked Ronan Hughes, who was a student at St. Joseph’s Grammar School in Donaghmore, into believing he was confabulating with a young girl when in fact, he was chatting with a ruthless gang. After Hughes sent nude photos of himself, the gang threatened to post the photos to his Facebook page if he didn’t cough up $3,000.
— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) June 16, 2015
Taking the gang seriously, Ronan confided in his mother, Teresa Hughes, and told her about the blackmail.
“He came to me and said ‘I’m in trouble here,'” his mom stated. “He gave me his phone. They were looking for more than $3,000 for an image he had posted and told him they were going to show it to all his friends.”
“They had sent him a list of all his Facebook friends. He texted them [Nigerian gang] back to say, ‘but I’m only 17.'”
His father, Gerard, immediately took him down to the police station where he could inform the police about the blackmail.
“I knew Ronan was looking for help and I told him [the officer] that all my son wanted is for these images not to be posted,” Gerard said.” “He told us that he couldn’t guarantee that. For Ronan, it was totally dismissive.”
The teen committed suicide when he learned that police officials couldn’t stop the Nigerian gang from posting his nude photos on Facebook. His father discovered his lifeless body in their backyard after finding several notes on the kitchen table, according to Irish Mirror.
“If the police had given Ronan reassurance and said ‘we’ll contact IT experts, we’ll close this down, we’ll stop that’, Ronan would still be here today.
“That’s why he came to us. He wanted help.”
“The biggest point we want to get across is how naive parents are in relation to social media,” he said. “There’s no point in a parent taking a phone off a child when they don’t know what they are doing themselves or how to access the technology themselves.”
— The Irish News (@irish_news) June 16, 2015
After the death of their son, Ronan’s parents’ wanted to speak out publicly about the tragic incident to prevent it from happening to other families.
“We decided to speak out as this is something that could have been prevented,” she said. “A child with mental illness maybe can’t be stopped from taking their own life. But to think that Ronan was living life to the full and then all of a sudden something like this can pop up and take his life…that’s why we had to act.”
“We want there to be changes so if a child out there is being bullied online they can go to the police or other authorities with their concerns.”
“We don’t want another family to go through what we’ve gone through.”
[Image courtesy of David Silverman/Getty Images]