Cyberbullying suicide: Italy shocked by Amnesia Ask.fm case
- 12 February 2014
- From the section Europe
MPs in Italy have called for action against cyberbullying after a girl of 14, subjected to online abuse, killed herself in a north-eastern town.
Calling herself Amnesia, she had gone on the social network Ask.fm seeking sympathy after breaking up with a boyfriend, Italian media report.
"Kill yourself", "Nobody wants you" and "You are not normal" were some of the anonymous replies she received.
She jumped to her death from a high-rise building on Sunday.
It is still unclear which factors chiefly drove her to take her life. Prosecutors in Padua have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
For some time she had been posting messages that suggested she might be suicidal. She appeared to have stopped posting about a week before she died.
The girl, whose real name was given as Nadia by Italian daily Il Mattino di Padova, left messages for her family in the town of Fontaniva, near Padua, but they were unable to reach her in time.
Micaela Campana, an MP for the Democratic Party in the country's coalition government, said: "We can no longer read about young people who take their lives because of threats and psychological pressure."
There have been calls in Italy to shut down Ask.fm, which was sharply criticised for its policy of allowing users to post comment anonymously after previous bullying-related deaths in the UK and US.
Ask.fm spokesperson Liva Biseniece told the BBC News website: "We intend to co-operate fully with the Italian authorities regarding this tragic case.
"We note that suicide cases of young people are always a very complex overlap of social, economic and emotional aspects. We urge the media to provide space and time to establish what prompted this terrible event."
In recent months, Nadia replied 1,148 times to questions online, Il Mattino di Padova reports.
It found a stream of insults and obscenities directed at the girl.
"Where do I see myself living five years from now?" she wrote in one entry. "Me living five years from now? Wow."
At one point, Nadia posted photos of cuts she said she had made to her arms.
It appears she planned her death carefully, leaving five letters to family and friends.
On news of Nadia's death, her mother was treated in hospital for shock, Il Mattino di Padova reports.
"My daughter was only 14 years old and hadn't done anything," the girl's father was quoted as saying.
The mayor of Fontaniva, Marcello Mezzasalma, said Nadia's father had confided in him that he had secretly checked his daughter's mobile phone and diary, but had not noticed anything amiss.
The mayor said he had decided against declaring a day of mourning so as to avoid "creating an even bigger clamour".
Blaming the social network, Mr Mezzasalma said: "Let's close this damn Ask."
He added that he was in contact with Italian MEP Mara Bizzotto, a member of the opposition Northern League party, who has asked the European Commission for stronger EU legislation on internet abuse.
Ask.fm pledged to take action last year after online bullying cases made headlines.
"We urge our members to use the reporting, blocking and deleting options available to them," Ms Biseniece said on Wednesday.
Ms Campana, who has already proposed a bill to increase the punishment for online abuse, said parliament must urgently debate a bill on bullying and cyberbullying.