Family says cyberbullying contributed to loved one's suicide - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Family says cyberbullying contributed to loved one's suicide

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

"Olivia was beautiful, smart, athletic, compassionate, always eager to help someone," Stephanie Scott said.

The community of Bristol is reeling after 16-year-old Olivia Scott took her own life Wednesday.

Mom Stephanie Scott says she knew her daughter had been struggling, but did not know the extent of her pain until she received the tragic news over the phone.

"It was awful, absolutely awful to see that she was hurting so badly and I didn't know," Stephanie Scott said.

Olivia's mother says her daughter did see a therapist for depression over the past couple of years. Family members say they also believe in-person and cyberbullying contributed to her suicide. A friend and classmate of Olivia's sent us snapshots of one of their online exchanges. The pair complain about a feud with an acquaintance who insulted Olivia, and she tells her friend "it's (expletives) like him that make me want to kill myself." The friend tells her not to joke about the subject, but tells us the threat was perceived as "teen talk."

Vermont State Police are investigating the circumstances leading up to Olivia's apparent suicide. They say there's no evidence of cyberbullying, but the investigation is ongoing.

School officials say they have anti-bullying programming, but declined to address this case. They say they're trying to balance the community's need to grieve with concerns that big displays could lead to another tragedy.

Superintendent David Adams issued a statement which reads: "In the coming days, we anticipate that there will be more moments of sadness and grief and our counselors and area agencies are prepared to support students, staff and faculty members as needed."

"If you think there may be some depression, go see a doctor immediately," Stephanie Scott advised. "Don't blow it off, don't wait."

Olivia's loved ones say they're sharing their painful story in the hopes that it may prevent others from a similar fate.

Mount Abraham canceled games Wednesday, but events resume Thursday night.

Counselors will be available at the school Friday and Olivia Scott's funeral service will be held there Tuesday.

Resources for kids in crisis:

Statewide -- www.vermont211.org

Chittenden County -- First Call for Children and Families -- 802-488-7777

Grand Isle and Franklin counties -- Northwest Counseling Services -- 802-524-6554

Addison County -- Counseling Services of Addison County -- 802-388-7641

Other resources:
Vermont 211 -- www.vermont211.org
HowardCenter -- 802-488-6000 -- www.howardcenter.org/home

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