It appears that America’s bullying epidemic has claimed another victim. Texas City, Texas, teen Brandy Vela took her own life earlier this week after what her family has described as” months of relentless cyberbullying.” According to Brandy Vela’s sister, Jackie, bullies “had always” tormented 18-year-old Brandy about her weight, but things got exponentially worse last April.
That’s when, according to the Texas teen’s loved ones, Brandy’s anonymous bullies began to create fake social media accounts and message her constantly. The messages weren’t just mean, they were cruel. Reportedly, Brandy Vela would get horrible, self-esteem-crushing messages such as, “Why are you still here?” The unknown bullies would always call Brandy fat and ugly, although the Texas teen’s sister says that she was nothing of the sort.
“People would make up fake Facebook accounts and they would message her and she wouldn’t respond and they would still come at her. She was beautiful, absolutely beautiful; the only thing people could find to pick on her was her weight.”
This week, the constant mental anguish became too much for Texas teen Brandy Vela to bear, reports CNN. After dealing with months of ceaseless cyberbullying, she reportedly shot herself in the chest as her family looked on in horror and tried to talk her out of it.
According to Brandy’s sister, the Texas teen tried desperately to avoid her cyberbullies. She reportedly changed her phone number to try to dodge the hateful messages, and even reported the bullying to local law enforcement, but got no relief from police. They, according to sister Jackie, told the harassed teen that there was nothing they could do for her.
“They couldn’t do anything because [the suspects] used an app and it wasn’t traceable and they couldn’t do something until something happened, like they fight.”
The bullying and mental abuse turned to tragedy on Tuesday. That’s when Brandy Vela sent a disturbing text to her sister, a text so off-putting that Jackie immediately called the siblings’ parents and grandparents to intervene. To Jackie, the text message sounded an awful lot like a good-bye.
“I love you so much, please remember that, and I’m sorry for everything.”
The Texas teen’s parents and grandparents reportedly headed to their home immediately, hoping to intervene before Brandy could follow through with an irreversible decision. When they got there, they found Brandy Vela in her bedroom, crying hysterically, a gun pointed at her chest. The teen’s family begged her not to pull the trigger, but they were too late to stop her from following through with her plan to end her life and the pain she suffered as a result of the cyberbullying she’d endured.
After the teen shot herself point-blank in the chest, she was transported to a local hospital by first-responders, but she was pronounced dead upon arrival.
As People reports, the sister of Texas teen Brandy Vela was in her parent’s room when her sister ended her life. She said she clearly heard the sound of the gun firing, followed by her father’s brokenhearted plea.
“‘Help me, help me, help me.”
Despite being a victim of cyberbullying, Brandy was reportedly well-liked by her Texas City High School peers. According to a spokesperson for the district, the community is “devastated” by the teen’s suicide.
“Brandy was well-liked and friendly. Texas City High School students really liked her. She has touched many people as evident by the outpouring of love from her schoolmates.”
In the aftermath of her tragic death, Brandy Vela’s bedroom has become a makeshift shrine to the 18-year-old’s memory. Its walls are reportedly covered in sticky notes with sweet messages, such as, “You will always own a piece of my heart.” The walls of the Texas teen’s school are also decorated in her honor; they are covered with blue paper hearts, an homage to Brandy’s “beautiful blue eyes.”
Hoping that some small good could come from the tragedy of Brandy’s suicide, her family chose to donate her organs.
Texas City police detectives have confirmed that they are investigating a possible cyberbullying connection to the teen’s death, and are reportedly following up with people that Brandy Vela’s family say are probable suspects in the relentless cyberbullying the teen endured up until her death.
According to Brandy’s father, Raul, the Texas teen had endured much more than taunting about her weight. He claims that Brandy had been victimized by fake social media profiles and posts which offered illicit activities and services using her telephone number. According to Brandy’s father, the teen had changed her phone number repeatedly and the cyber harassment was reported to police on more than one occasion, to no avail. Because law enforcement didn’t know who was behind the bullying, there was nothing they could do to help Brandy Vela.
“Maybe I was approaching it the wrong way. They couldn’t do anything about it.”
The Texas City Independent School District released a statement that confirms that the Texas teen brought the cyberbullying to the attention of administrators before Thanksgiving break. The statement indicates that the cyberbullying was happening outside of school hours, and that the Texas teen’s school discovered that the app being used to send the harassing messages to Brandy Vela was not traceable. The teen was reportedly “encouraged” to change her phone number, but the school claims to not know if she followed through with the advice.
The school has also asked students for help in identifying the person(s) behind the cyberbullying that led to Brandy Vela’s suicide.
“If anyone knows anyone suspected of harassing Brandy, we need that information on that shared with the school and police. We take cyberbullying seriously and would penalize to the full extent of the law for any violations.”
Brandy Vela will be honored by her classmates on Friday, that’s when students have planned to release blue balloons in memory of her eyes; a prayer vigil is also planned for the Texas teen at 6:30 p.m. that same evening.
[Featured Image by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock]