The tragedy of the "MySpace Suicide" of Megan Meiers could prevent others like it from occurring in the future. As news of the tragic story spreads across the nation, perhaps an event calamitous for one family may be an opportunity for others.
Upon reading the story, it's hard to come away feeling anything other than shock, disbelief, outrage or sadness.
13-year-old Megan was the object of mean attacks on the popular Internet site MySpace by, what she thought was, an attractive boy, "Josh", she'd taken a liking to. Others on the site joined in.
The attacks caused the depression-suffering girl to hang herself.
It was later learned that the attacks came not from the boy, who proved to be a fictitious creation, but from adults who lived down the street from Megan.
All this took place eventhough, from all accounts, Megan's mom monitored her Internet use in every way possible. Monitored it much more than most parents, in fact.
How could this story prevent others like it from happening?
TAKE 15 MINUTES
Do you have a teen? Do you watch "Jerry Springer"?
Turn off the TV, have them sit down and give them a copy of this story. If they haven't already heard about it, have them read it. They will probably wonder what's up at this point.
Did the news of their adventures in science class somehow reach home?
Chances are, after reading it, most will have similar reactions to adults.
Talk to them. Ask them what they think about the story. What would they do in Megan's case? Do they know any of their friends who've met fake characters online? Do they know how often it happens?
How would react if someone on line "said things about them"?
No definitive conclusion need be reached in the discussion. The fact that they're sitting down talking with a parent might be old hat. That's good.
But it might be a new experience--for everyone involved. They will certainly notice that you turned off the TV. That might tip them off that this is serious.
Maybe this sad story might cause them to think, if only for a moment. The disastrous story of the death of Megan Meier may stick with them. Maybe they'll file it away for future reference.
In the end, you can turn the TV back on at the end of all this: you won't have missed much. Jerry, Oprah and Judge Judy won't miss the ratings points. Your teen may look at you funny. That comes with territory--or should.
The word most often used to describe the MySpace suicide of Megan Meier is "tragedy". It is apt. Maybe this tragedy can prevent another Megan from occurring.
It's too late for Megan Meier and her grief-stricken family. It may not be too late for others.
More on the MySpace suicide of Megan Meier:
MySpace Suicide: The Megan Meier Story - Video
MySpace Cruel Prank Leads to Teen's Suicide
MySpace Suicide Reactions: Outrage!
[UPDATE: 11:40 11-15-07] Prosecutor to Take Another Look at Case
A St. Charles County teen commits suicide after being targeted by an online attack, but those who instigated it face no criminal charges, or could they? The county prosecutor says he never saw the complete case file. He doesn't want to give anyone false hope, but he says it's not yet case closed.
"Me personally, I've never seen anything on this case," says St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas. He says from what he's heard he knows hearts are broken, but he doesn't believe laws were.
More on the Megan Meier MySpace Suicide:
Supposedly an ex-friend of Megan's replies to our stories in
"Megan Had It Coming"
Megan Meier MySpace Suicide Cruel Hoax: No Justice for Megan
Cruel Hoaxer's Outed: Let the Lesser Outrage Begin
Megan Meier MySpace Suicide Reactions: Outrage! Outrage!
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.