The Phoebe Price case has become a media sensation with stories running everywhere from The Boston Globe to People Magazine. The basics of the case are that Phoebe, an exchange student from Ireland, was bullied so badly that she took her own life. But right and wrong here are not clear. While many want to point a finger of blame, it’s not that easy and each new item that comes to light makes thing more complicated. It has to be painful for the families of the victim and those who now stand trial for her suicide.
A new report from Slate.com paints Phoebe as a teen who suffered from depression long before she got to South Hadley High School. There are details that she began cutting herself when her mother divorced her father and that she was placed on Prozac and Seroquel, a drug used to treat mood disorders including bipolar depression. She attempted suicide in November 2008, two months prior to her success at it.
Already suffering grief over the loss of their daughter, Phoebe’s parents are now having to deal with the fresh wounds caused by her most personal information being made public. They have spoken out against the Slate story.
“It resurfaced everything,” Phoebe’s aunt, Eileen Moore, told the Boston Herald. “We relive it.”.
A friend of the Prince family said: “It’s been going on since the beginning — let’s further victimize the victim. As far as this whole troubled kid thing, well, kids don’t commit suicide unless they’re troubled. This (bullying) just pushed her over the edge.”
Along with pity for the Prince family, it is also impossible not to feel sympathy for the families of the teens charged for her death who participated in typical teen behavior. Bullying, however bad it is, is pretty much a tradition at every school.
Her six classmates have been charged with “civil rights violation with bodily injury” because they called Phoebe an “Irish slut” and interfered with her schooling. Two of the teens over the age of 18 were also charged with statutory rape for having sex with Phoebe, who was below the age of consent.
How things will pan out remains to be seen, but this is an incredibly sad case. Instead of pointing fingers at the victim or those who bullied her, perhaps the blame (if someone has to be blamed) lies with the school for not stopping the poor behavior of their students.