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RCMP serious crime teams in Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows are cooperating on an investigation into the death of Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd.
In a press release issued Friday, the Lower Mainland District RCMP Regional Police Service stated that police are conducting interviews and reviewing any potential contributing factors to her death, including social media. Police are asking anyone with pertinent information to share it via email, Investigators are asking the public to share a description of the pertinent information, their name and contact information at: AmandaTODDinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Todd, who produced a video describing how bullying and harassment against her led to self-harm and depression, was found dead in Port Coquitlam on Wednesday. She was 15 years old and in Grade 10.
Coquitlam RCMP, as well as School District 43, are talking with the family, which has told police they will not be communicating with the media.
Todd was reported have transferred to CABE (Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education School) in February and a press statement from the school will be issued shortly.
“This is a devastating tragedy, which impacts the community as a whole. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this young person,” said Sergeant Peter Thiessen, spokesperson for the Lower Mainland District RCMP regional Police Service.
Sgt. Thiessen acknowledged there is significant concern within schools, the community and the broader public regarding the role bullying could have played in her death but says it is too soon for police to comment.
“However, BC RCMP has publicly stated in the past that bullying ranks second, behind substance abuse, for youth issues identified as concerns by our detachments,” says Sgt. Peter Thiessen.
He reminds the community that many can play a role in helping to keep schools free of bullies and to report any acts of bullying or assist those who are victims of bullying.
Parents should always try to keep open lines of communication with their children so they are comfortable coming forward if they are being bullied at school.
A number of resources are available to youth and their parents through the www.deal.org website. These include facts on what bullying is, why people bully and who they target and how parents can deal with their child, whether they are being bullied or are the ones doing the bullying. Other recommended resources include www.bullying.org or www.cyberbullying.ca.
Across School District 43, schools are grappling with the news of Todd's death, but students at the school she attended most recently are particularly devastated and counsellors are there today to help with their grief, according to SD43 spokesperson Cheryl Quinton.
Notes also went home to parents Thursday informing them of the tragedy.
"I think in an aftermath of any tragedy, it gives schools an opportunity to create a discussion point," Quinton said. "The various initiatives to deal with anti-bullying will continue and schools will continue to look at ways to implement further programming.:
In fact, a panel presentation on bullying had already been planned for Oct. 24 at Terry Fox Theatre and Quinton said Todd's death has heightened awareness, with more people coming forward to offer help and attend the event.
"People are saying how can I get involved?"
Quinton said Todd's family is considering setting up a trust fund and she will send out information when it becomes available.
On social media sites such as Twitter, people suggested anti-bullying events in conjunction with Pink Shirt Day and, in Coquitlam, a grad his hoping to collect funds for an Amanda fund at 2 p.m. outside CABE on Wednesday and a candle light vigil for Amanda Todd is being suggested for Nov. 27.
OUTPOURING OF GRIEF
Since her death, an outpouring of grief has made its way on to various social media sites.
A Facebook page called R.I.P. Amanda Todd had close to 47,000 likes by Friday afternoon while another Facebook group called "Amanda Todd Inspiring Many to Stand Taller for Others Like Her" had 1,254 members.
"My daughter was bullied by other girls in school and she dropped out and has anxiety and migraines and doesn't hardly go anywhere," said Darla Cruickshank in a post on one of the pages. "Those girls graduated and are going on with their lives! It isn't fair!"
Thousands of tweets mentioned the Port Coquitlam teenager and news organizations from around the world, including CNN, the Daily Mail and ABC News, reported her death.