Bullying Causes Massachusetts Teen to Commit Suicide

Liz De La Torre

First, there was Virginia Tech. Next, Megan Meier. Then, Carl Walker-Hoover. Now, just as the previous news features have all made headline commotion, the word bullying is not mentioned without “Phoebe Prince” at the center of horrific discussion. Of course, this is not the way her parents had wanted to remember her; nonetheless Prince now joins the cluster of bullying statistics resulting in suicidal tragedies, coining the term “bullycide.” On Jan. 14, the fifteen year-old hanged herself after enduring months of bullying and harassment from classmates who tormented her in person, online, and via cell phone text messages.

According to sources, Prince had been dating South Hadley High School football captain Sean Mulveyhill, 17, who unbeknownst to Prince, was simultaneously dating Kayla Narey, 17. Branded as an “Irish whore” and “Irish slut,” Prince was met with amplified bullying by a group of girls. The girls, who called themselves the “mean girls” would routinely hassle her by knocking down her books, threatening her, scribbling out her face on school photos, and in one instance, hitting her with a Red Bull can on the way home from school. It was also revealed that the girls were jealous of Prince’s good looks and popularity with the school boys and the persistent bullying was “to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school,” Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said. “The bullying, for her, became intolerable.” Even on the day of Prince’s death, the anguish continued with one bully posting “accomplished” on Prince’s memorial page on Facebook.

Scheibel proceeded to settle on the fact that the suicide was “the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally abusive, assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm toward Phoebe on school grounds by several South Hadley students.” Sources say that the bullying went on for months, and Phoebe’s mother allegedly reported the behavior to school officials. However, South Hadley School Superintendent Gus Sayer tells People magazine that school officials were not aware of the bullying situation until a week before Prince committed suicide. Along with Mulveyhill and Narey, charges have been brought against Austin Renaud, 18, Ashley Longe, 16, Flannery Mullins, 16, and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, 16.

These three minors’ indictments consist of statutory rape, stalking, criminal harassment, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, violation of civil rights with bodily harm, and disturbance of school assembly. Additional charges are pending, and arraignment proceedings will occur later this week. The Prince Family, who had moved to South Hadley from Ireland just last summer, has since moved out of the area and could not be reached for comment.