Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A tale that is shocking of attack into the Digital Age

Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A tale that is shocking of attack into the Digital Age

Nina Burleigh

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Sexting Shame & Suicide

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

O n the final day’s her life, Audrie Pott strolled by way of a crucible of teenage torment. A curvaceous sophomore at Saratoga senior high school, dressed up in the cool-girl’s uniform of the low-cut top and supershort dress, she seemed exactly like constantly, but inside she had been quivering with humiliation. Within the week since college had started, girls have been offering her appearance, and dudes had congregated around phones, smirking. On Twitter, messages had been pinging into her inbox, each one of these delivering another gut punch: “shit went down ahah jk i bet u currently got enough ppl talking it to myself haha. About any of it therefore sick continue. ”

“honestly like really no light hearted matter everybody else knows…. ”

“u were one horny mofo. ”

A grownup monitor handed her a dress-code breach – her skirt ended up being too short – despite the fact that all of the girls in her own class dressed this way and monitors seldom objected. She cut exactly exactly what classes she could, blowing down chemistry for 2 days in a line, hoping to avoid confrontations with disapproving girlfriends. Then Kathy Atabakhsh, certainly one of her close friends, tore she was, of becoming a different person into her on the school quad, accusing her of drinking, of forgetting who. “She was indeed, literally, the greatest individual you might satisfy – constantly honest and trustworthy, ” Kathy says, recalling the episode nearly per year later on. “And I was therefore upset that she had changed. It absolutely was hard for her to know that from an in depth buddy. ” She recalls the words that are camhub cams last believed to Audrie. “You need certainly to get back to truth, ” Kathy informed her.


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At lunchtime, Audrie texted her mother in the office: “Mom, please pick me up. ” Sheila Pott, a mortgage-loan officer, asked why and whether Audrie couldn’t watch for her to complete a company meeting. Audrie was insistent, after which stopped responding to texts.

Whenever Sheila pulled up inside her automobile later that Monday afternoon on September tenth, 2012, Audrie jumped in but stayed quiet from the drive home that is short. Sheila ended up being familiar with her 15-year-old daughter’s moods and stopped pushing her. They had been living alone together since Sheila had split with her boyfriend the year before, Audrie retreated to her bedroom, with its Audrey Hepburn poster and silk-upholstered window seat when they got to their ranch-style home, where. Around 20 mins passed away before Sheila made a decision to check up on her child. She wandered throughout the home and down the long carpeted hallway towards the restroom home Audrie’s that is adjoining space. The entranceway had been locked. Audrie didn’t solution. Sheila knocked and knocked once again. One thing about the silence forced a panic key inside her. She grabbed the thing that is first can find to jimmy the lock – the tiny steel pole at the conclusion of her phone’s earplug – and jammed it in to the doorknob. Flinging the home open, she confronted a sight now completely etched inside her memory. Into the bathroom that is pale-peach featuring its shell-shaped sink, gold fixtures and slim tub, her only kid ended up being hanging from the gear connected to the bath head, mascara streaking her face.

Sheila sprinted down the hallway, back to your kitchen, grabbed a knife and cut her daughter down, wanting to keep in mind how exactly to perform CPR while dialing 911. Paramedics arrived inside a minutes that are few. They restarted Audrie’s heart, however it was too late. The girl that is brown-eyed liked horses, art and pranks would not inhale on her own again.

There is no note, absolutely nothing to explain why her popular and daughter that is pretty done it. When you look at the medical center, Sheila started retracing events that are recent shopping for some clue in regards to what might have pressed her child to simply just just take her very own life. She thought about Audrie’s strange silence on your day after a sleepover the weekend before. And she remembered the ink that is green noticed around her daughter’s cleavage, strange markings that Audrie had refused to spell out.

S aratoga highschool, featuring its country-club-worthy­quad, Olympic-size swimming pool and plush tennis courts, is regarded as those affluent Ca schools US teens recognize from films and television. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the educational college houses high-achieving kiddies of moms and dads working at Apple, e-bay, Netflix along with other tech corporations headquartered within 50 kilometers. In the event that Saratoga Falcons would not frequently field a fantastic football group, there’s consolation when you look at the proven fact that each graduating class has propelled a large number of children into Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley.

Summer time before her death, Audrie had started initially to alter, getting off the kids she’d hung out with since center college. She had began to take in a had and little dated a somewhat older man. Whenever she drank, the self-consciousness which had afflicted her since junior high melted away. She loosened up. Often, she loosened up a great deal.

On work Day week-end for the brand new college 12 months, Audrie’s friend, let’s call her “Sara” (lots of the young ones’ names in this tale have already been changed to safeguard their identities), stated her moms and dads had been away, making their white cottage-style house or apartment with its long green yard inside her care. Sara – 15, pretty, slim and that is blond Audrie had become close that summer time and were checking out an innovative new world of males, containers and small events, ideally at parent-free homes, that the Saratoga children call “kickbacks. ”

That Sunday, Sara informed her moms and dads that she would definitely be resting over at Audrie’s, and Audrie informed her mother that she’d be resting over at Sara’s. Whenever Sheila drove Audrie to Sara’s, she assumed girls could be investing the night within their jammies while watching television, or giggling over ice cream and Facebook. But Sara had already texted around a dozen buddies to drop set for her kickback.

Fundamentally, 11 young ones turned up, many of them to sip vodka and Gatorade cocktails. Each of them belonged with their class’s popular clique, girls dressed as provocatively as you can, also because of the free criteria of Ca high schools. “See-through shorts and thongs pulled up, shorts pulled down, ” recalls an adult woman. “That’s just what the girls that are‘cool wore. ” The guys they hung down with preferred a uniform locally dubbed “swagfag” – snapback hat, PacSun tank tops, knee-length chino shorts and Vans.

A kids that are few brought some containers of alcohol – rum taken from Safeway, vodka bought for them by a grown-up at a alcohol shop. They ultimately guzzled a container of tequila that Sara’s moms and dads kept in their own personal case. The mixer of preference ended up being Gatorade, or downed right. Audrie drank most difficult of most.

When Audrie’s old friends that are middle-school Kathy, Amanda Le and another girl, appeared around 9 p.m., there is no music, simply the noise of sloppy-drunk talk. Audrie had been stumbling and incoherent, taking shots and making away with various boys in the living-room settee. Her buddies had been appalled. “I never ever saw, I’d simply heard of times she had gotten drunk, ” says Kathy. “She had been so unique of the way I knew her become. Because we had been sober, we noticed exactly what ended up being going on, and so they didn’t know very well what these were doing. ”

Sara seemed therefore trashed whenever she greeted them in the home that Kathy does not even think her classmate respected her. “There ended up being stuff throughout the tables, ” Kathy says. “Superdirty. That they had meals and a entire lot of crap every where. Individuals falling over, walking on. Sooner or later, I became like, ‘I feel superuncomfortable, everyone’s so trashed so we are only sitting right here. ’ So we left. ”