Watch Live: ‘We Are Getting There’ as April the Giraffe Nears Giving Birth

Teen Who Shot Herself Dead in Front of Her Parents Is Still Being Bullied

TEXAS CITY, Texas — Raul Vela, who watched his daughter die two weeks ago, doesn’t want peace or quiet. He wants action.

Brandy Vela, 18, shot herself in front of her parents after being relentlessly cyberbullied. The Texas teen, who was described by her school as well-liked and friendly, was buried December 7. By Friday, someone had opened a social media page in her memory, but it was quickly filled with disturbing posts about her; the cyberbullying literally following her to the grave.

Her father is fighting back.

“The continued harassment reported by Mr. Vela is being investigated,” Texas City police Capt. Joe Stanton said. “We currently do not have any suspects or persons of interest identified.”

The harassment continues

“Two days after her funeral, somebody opened up a social media page in her name,” Vela said, “and people thought the family did it, so it started with people putting sincere condolences. After a few minutes, either four people or the same person posting four times said some things harassing Brandy about being a big fat cow, writing ‘you finally did it’ with a picture of a gun, writing ‘you’re a coward,’ ‘you should have done this a long time ago,’ some really horrific things.”

The Vela family provided screenshots of the posts, but CNN is not publishing them because of their offensive nature.

One of the posts shows a smiling Brandy with the words “my face when you shoot yourself in front of your family.” Another is a stick figure holding a gun with the words, “oops am I dead?” A third shows a gun hidden inside a book.

“People are more likely to write horrible things when they think they’re being anonymous,” said psychologist Susan Swearer, co-founder of the Bullying Research Network. “From a psychological perspective, people who write horrible things about other people, particularly after they’ve passed away, they have their own mental health issues.”

She says Vela did the right thing by reporting the social media pages to authorities.

“When people feel emboldened to write mean and hurtful things about other people, they’ll just extend it to siblings or families,” Swearer said.

Vela, whose family was avoiding social media in the wake of Brandy’s death, said the posts were first brought to their attention by friends.

Shortly after the news of Brandy’s death broke, people also began attacking Vela online, he said.

“People were putting comments about me saying that I should have done something different, so I blocked it all. I’m not reading it anymore,” he said.

“They’re still harassing her, but she’s no longer with us, so it’s more like they’re harassing me and my family.”

Police have told the Velas that they’ll be able to trace the posts, and the culprits will be prosecuted.

Raising awareness

Vela can’t change what happened to his daughter, so he’s trying to persuade state lawmakers to increase restrictions on social media, making it harder for cyberbullies to stay anonymous.

He met with local legislators and community representatives and says they came up with good ideas, such as providing specialized counseling and mental health support at schools for victims like his daughter.

“Right now, my job is to raise awareness. I’m not trying to blame people or point fingers. I want people who are still being bullied to know that I want to change things. I feel like she put this in my hands to try and get help for people in the same situation. It’s unfortunate that something tragic has to happen to make changes come,” Vela said.

He said he wants every police department in the nation to have at least one officer trained to pursue cyberbullying crimes. He called Brandy’s death a murder, saying she was pushed to the breaking point.

“I feel like these people are cowards, these people hiding behind the texts and fake pages. They’re the ones who pushed her to this point. She lost all her self-esteem, lost all her self-worth,” he said.

11 comments

  • BE NICE

    Why do these girls post all of these gazillions of “sometimes suggestive” selfies online, putting themselves out there for criticism? Even celebrities get alot of “hateful social media response” to their constant stream of selfies we see every time we turn on our computers. Just read some of the hateful comments people post in response to celebrity selfies. Celebrities are laughing all the way to the bank, they don’t care.
    I do think these girls should be more tactful with what they put on their Facebook pages and other forms of social media.
    While there are many very nice people in the world, there are also many very cruel and spiteful people who take opportunity to poke insult at others.
    I’m sure there was much more to this girl than just her pretty looks. It’s too bad she didn’t see that in herself.

  • TRUTH

    As is often the case with bullying, these pathetic people were jealous. Look how stunning she was. Wow! They were eating their hearts out. Bullying is, kind of like cat calling, a misguided compliment. They hate ya, cuz they ain’t ya.

  • Nan aka Nu Liform

    …this is happening way too much..& it’s nuts how people are reacting to it..killing yourself over an online problem? why in the world can people not just ignore this ‘bullying?..i do, all the time..you can just turn the page…there IS something More that you can do about it, that does not involve punishing innocent people with censorship….it’s called UNplug…Unplug the thing & come live in the Real world for a while, people…

    • Thank you for that wonderful comment

      well I guess we will just all hope something as terrible as this does not happen to you and your family so some ignorant a-hole like yourself can come on here and say something as insensitive and useless as that… people like you are the problem, have some consideration for others.. and most importantly, get a life

      • Nan aka Nu Liform

        what a Classic Example of bulling you just posted..im going to Show you how what i suggested is done…goodby..you will have to go bully someone else now.

      • WTH

        Probably a bully themselves! “unplug innocent people with censorship?” What a low life Nan aka Nu Liform is! Sticking up for wrong instead of right! “Woe unto them who call good evil and evil good!”

    • WTH

      You’re the one doing the bullying here by telling us to ignore it! Bullying shouldn’t be ignored but rather addressed and ENDED! Bullying is an anti-social and dysfunctional behavior by the way! People like you are the reason low-life kids born from low-life parents get away with it all the time! Why don’t we ignore criminals too while we’re at it?!?!?

Comments are closed.