National News

A mother's story about teen suicide and bullying: 'She felt more and more alone'

Posted August 30

— Audrie is Sheila Pott's only daughter.

"She is very full of life, gregarious, loved to play jokes. [She] had a strong love of animals and her friends," Sheila Pott said of her only daughter, Audrie.

She could have never imagined her child would have committed suicide.

"I was probably in shock for a year," Pott said.

In 2012, Audrie Pott was at a high school party in Northern California. She, along with others, drank alcohol mixed with Gatorade. Audrie passed out and was sexually assaulted by three teenagers.

"She had no memory of what happened. She just woke up and half her face was colored black and she had all these lewd messages in very private places," Sheila Pott said. "She didn't know what happened or if there was pictures or who had seen them."

Sheila Pott says she was only able to piece together what happened that night after her daughter took her own life. As part of the subsequent investigation, they found messages on social media regarding the assault.

"She was getting texts and messages from people that she didn't even know from other schools, that had heard about the party or they'd heard a rumor," Sheila said. "They start to label you as the slut and start to slut shame you."

The three boys involved pleaded guilty in connection to the assault.

"I just think that the trauma of it was just too much for her to think there was a future," Pott said.

Sheila, along with Audrie's father and stepmother, now run a foundation in Audrie's name, providing anti-cyberbullying presentations to schools.

"With cyberbullying, online and social media bullying, kids can't get away from it because they're always on their phones," said Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor with San Diego State University.

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