Hope Witsell was a 13-year-old who grew up in Sundance, Florida. Her only crime was forwarding a nude photo of herself to a boy she liked. Another girl borrowed the boy’s phone, found the image and forwarded it to other students. And so, the image found its way to a lot of other students in her school and in other schools. The result – taunting and bullying from her peers at Beth Shields Middle School, with insults such as “whore” and “slut”.
Hope wrote in her journal. “Tons of people talk about me behind my back and I hate it because they call me a whore! And I can’t be a whore i’m too inexperienced. So secretly TONS of people hate me … ” School authorities found out about the nude photo around the end of the school year and suspended Hope for the first week of eighth grade, which started in August. When she returned to school, a counselor observed cuts on Hope’s legs and had her sign a “no-harm” contract, in which Hope agreed to tell an adult if she felt inclined to hurt herself. The next day, Hope hanged herself in her bedroom.
On Sept. 12, 2009 Hope wrote in her journal: “I’m done for sure now. I can feel it in my stomach. I’m going to try and strangle myself. I hope it works.”