Ordeals of Amanda Leading to Suicide
Amanda uploaded a nine-minute ‘YouTube’ video, titled ‘My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm,’ on September 7, 2012, around a month prior to taking her own life. In the video, she used an array of flashcards that unfolded the story of her ordeal. The video became viral within two days of her death, amassing more than 1,600,000 views by October 13, 2012, and news websites from across the globe too showcased it.
According to her video, she moved in with her father while in seventh grade and started meeting new people online through video chat. During this time, she met a stranger who befriended her, and after around a year of persuasion, convinced her to expose her breasts on webcam.
The person then took a screenshot of her topless body and later started blackmailing her and threatening her to give him a "show." He told her that he would circulate the photo among her friends if she did not comply.
During the Christmas break in 2010, she was told by the police that her topless photo was being circulated on the internet. According to her video, she became depressed and then panicked after being sexually exploited online and becoming a subject of cyberbullying. In the wake of such circumstances, she shifted with her family to a new house, where she got addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Her blackmailer came back to her life again after a year. This time, he used her topless photo as the profile image of a new ‘Facebook’ profile and approached her classmates at her new school. Thus, Amanda was subjected to bullying again and was forced to change her school.
In her writings, Amanda mentioned that she was contacted by "an old guy friend." She soon started chatting with him and eventually had sex with him in his house while his girlfriend was holidaying somewhere else. The following week saw Amanda being confronted by the boy's girlfriend and around 15 others who accompanied her, at her school. Amanda was punched by the boy’s girlfriend. Her father later found her lying in a ditch.
Amanda attempted to end her life drinking bleach after the incident but was saved after being hurried to hospital. However, her agony did not end there, as she found abusive messages about her suicide attempt posted on ‘Facebook.’
She relocated to another city with her family in March 2012, with the hope of making a new start. However, her murky past continued to haunt her. Her mother, Carol, mentioned that each time Amanda changed school, the blackmailer would assume a different identity and become her ‘Facebook’ friend. He would contact her new classmates online, pretending to be a student of the school looking for new friends. He would then collect contacts and send her video to teachers, students, and parents of the students of her school.
Slowly, Amanda’s mental condition deteriorated. Although she was put under counseling and anti-depressants, she began harming herself and took an overdose of medicine that led her to be hospitalized again.
She was treated for severe depression and underwent further therapy and counseling. However, as her mother mentioned, Amanda, who was “on a good track” after the treatment, was taunted by some kids as “psycho” after being released from hospital.
Amanda was found hanging at around 6 o’clock in the evening, at her Port Coquitlam home in Canada, on October 10, 2012. She was in tenth grade at the ‘CABE Secondary’ in Coquitlam at that time.
Investigation, Identification of Accused & Conviction
Investigations on Amanda’s case were launched by the ‘British Columbia Coroners Service’ and the ‘RCMP.’ A preliminary investigation by the former revealed that she had committed suicide.
A report of an investigation conducted by the security unit of ‘Facebook’ was forwarded by the US authorities to the ‘Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’ of the ‘National Crime Agency’ of the UK and to the Dutch authorities. This led the Dutch police to arrest a man in January 2014, in a case that involved several victims across the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands.
A spyware installed on the man’s computer revealed some sort of a database of prospective victims, photographs of child pornography, and chat logs related to extortion.
In April 2014, it was reported that a 35-year-old man identified as Aydin C. in the Netherlands, holding both Dutch and Turkish citizenship, was charged with child pornography and indecent assault by the Dutch authorities. The ‘RCMP’ also declared that the man was charged with criminal harassment, internet allurement, extortion, and possessing and circulating child pornography. It was soon revealed that he had harassed Amanda and many other victims, both girls and boys.
The trial of the alleged man, Aydin Coban, who was slapped with 72 charges of sexual assault and extortion (involving 39 alleged victims) by the Dutch authorities, started in the Netherlands in February 2017 and concluded on March 16 that year. He was convicted on charges of blackmail and internet fraud in the Netherlands and was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison.
He faces five different Canadian charges related to Amanda’s case and is expected to be extradited to Canada by the middle of 2018.
Impact of Amanda s Death
Amanda’s tragic death received a lot of media attention and coverage from across the world. An array of vigils were conducted in Canada and beyond, on October 19, 2012, in memory of Amanda and other victims of bullying.
Her final farewell ceremony was held on November 19, 2012, at the ‘Red Robinson Show Theatre’ in Coquitlam. It was attended by six hundred people. Parliamentarian Dany Morin of the ‘New Democratic Party’ introduced a motion in the ‘Canadian House of Commons’ that year, which suggested focusing on the issue of bullying in the nation and giving more financial and other support to anti-bullying organizations.
To address the problem of cyberbullying endured by Amanda and other victims of Canada, Justice Minister Peter MacKay of the ‘Conservative Party’ introduced ‘Bill C-13’ on November 20, 2013. It received royal assent on December 9, 2014 and went into effect on March 9, 2015.
Amanda’s mother, Carol, set up the ‘Amanda Todd Trust’ at the ‘Royal Bank of Canada.’ The trust receives donations to back awareness education and programs on the ways of tackling bullying and is targeted toward adolescents who are mentally disturbed due to bullying.
In 2016, the ‘Amanda Todd Legacy Award’ was created in association with the ‘Douglas College Foundation.’ It awards three students US$ 1,000 annually, toward their education.