15-year-old Amanda Todd loses life to suicide after photo of breasts leaked

"Let he without sin cast the first stone."

No matter how many mistakes a person has made, he or she does not deserve to die. But many people make others feel this way.

After all, how many times have you heard of topless photos celebrities sent from their personal phones leaked onto the web…and how many people judge them because of it.

This truth is, sexting (sending sexual explicit messages) is not uncommon -- especially for teenage girls who have not yet learned the consequences. For many girls, it's a way for them to feel like they are beautiful...and, sadly, this has become a norm. And the girls forget how easily the photo can be forwarded on.

This is what happened to 15-year-old Amanda Todd, a teenager who lived in the Vancouver area who lost her life to suicide on Oct. 11. She would have turned 16 this month.

According to the Guardian, Amanda met a 30-year-old man on a webcam site, who posed as a boy her age, when she was in 7th grade. He called her "beautiful" and "perfect" and persuaded her into showing him her boobs.

The 30-year-old found her on Facebook, messaging her and saying he knew her personal information, like where she lived and where she went to school. He told her he would release the photo if she did not "put on a show." And so he did, making the uncensored photo his Facebook picture.

The other students did not stand up for Amanda. Instead they pretty much took the side of the 30-year-old pedophile, calling her a "porn star." The boys would torment her, and the girls would beat her up. And they would share the photo to everyone they knew as well.

Could you imagine a photo of a private body part going viral? Even the thought makes me feel sick to my stomach.

To end the pain, Amanda took her life. She posted a video on YouTube on Sept. 7 of this year and, just weeks later, was found hanging in her home. She told her  mother that she was posting the video to help other kids be safe online.

Her mother Carol told the Vancouver Sun, “I have lost one child, but know she wanted her story to save 1,000 more."

“The Internet stalker she flashed kept stalking her. Every time she moved schools he would go undercover and become a Facebook friend. What the guy did was he went online to the kids who went to (the new school) and said that he was going to be a new student — that he was starting school the following week and that he wanted some friends and could they friend him on Facebook. He eventually gathered people’s names and sent Amanda’s video to her new school.”

The saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," is a saying I have always hated. It is so far from the truth. Ask me to remember the times I fell down and skinned my knees as a kid. I couldn't tell you. Ask me to remember times I was made fun of, and I could tell you in detail. Words hurt worse.

I can't believe students, even her own so-called "friends," did not stick up for Amanda.

That makes me sick. People, even adults, do not realize how much their words affect others. And how standing up for someone is not just the right thing to do -- it can save someone's life.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call Common Ground's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-231-1127.

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