Brandy Vela, a promising senior at Texas City High School in Houston, hoping to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, died in her home on Tuesday, November 29, from a gunshot wound to her chest, which was self-inflicted following cyberbullying on a fake dating website. She was 18.
A cyberbully who knew Brandy allegedly created a fake account in her name, provided her phone number, and announced that she was “giving herself up for sex for free, to call her.”
Her sister and father told several news agencies that Brandy was receiving call after call until she had had enough. Her father tried to convince her to put the gun down but said, “she’d come too far to turn back. It was very unfortunate that I had to see that. It’s hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless.”
Houston police are said to be investigating the cyberbullying reports. But the apps used for bullying encrypt the messages and don’t leave a digital trace of the comments posted, and the telephone numbers used to call her were untraceable, multiple sources said, citing Melissa Tortorici, Texas City High School’s communications director.
Ms Tortorici added that the school is remembering Brandy by filling the hallways with a color that reminds everyone of one of their “lost angels”: “The balloons will be blue. Brandy had beautiful blue eyes. In addition, students have been taping blue hearts down the hallways around school.”
A Celebration of Life ceremony was conducted on December 7, and arrangements were handled by Carnes Funeral Home.
Melania Trump, the wife of President-elect Donald Trump, promised in a speech at a rally in Pennsylvania that she would work to end cyberbullying.
“I will focus on helping children and women, and also about social media. In this 21st century, what’s going on, it’s very hurtful to children. To some adults as well, but we need to take care of children,” she said, adding that she felt Americans had become too mean.