EPCSO talks cyber bullying following teenage suicide in Lower Valley

EPCSO talks cyber bullying following teenage suicide in Lower Valley story image

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso County Sheriff Office told KFOX14 they were never alerted when Viviana Aguirre, 14, posted a suicidal message on Facebook hours before she killed herself.

Aguirre's parents told KFOX14 she had been an ongoing victim of cyber bullying, and that she hung herself late Thursday night.

Before she died, Aguirre posted the following message on her Facebook account: "Before I do this, thank you to all who tried to keep me up. But hey, it didn't work. Bye."

Some of Aguirre's friends commented on the status, and tried to talk her out of it.

"Don't you dare do something stupid", one poster said.

"You've got friends, it's not worth what you're thinking," said another.

"Don't you dare Vivi, I didn't care for you and love you just for you to throw it all away like that," said another.

The last message Aguirre ever posted in response to her friends said, "I'm not giving up on you guys okay, I'm giving up on myself, on life, I can't handle it, I might as well end it."

Hours later, Aguirre's parents found her body.

"In this case, we were never informed," said Randy Tabbutt, a deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff Department. [Her friends] tried to do it on their own, and they were doing the best they could, but we need to let the adults know, even a simple call to the parents."

Deputy Tabbutt told KFOX14 EPCSO has an active anti-bullying program, but there is only so much they can do.

"We go out and present to the schools, Texas law has stated that all schools will have an anti bullying program, we go to different schools, we give presentation to the kids, in severe cases we go and try to resolve the problems that are that are happening between the two parties, we intervene before it gets worse," Tabbut said. "Kids nowadays, they have Facebook, but the parents don't know they have Facebook. It's pretty amazing when I go to schools and present, and I'm talking to kids who are in kindergarten to fifth grade, and I ask them how many of you have a Facebook, and a great majority of the kids raise their hands, but do the parents know that, probably not."

Deputy Tabbutt said in many cases of cyber bullying, the bullies use fake names, or fake screen names, thinking their identity is hidden, but that deputies are becoming more technologically savy, and can find out who those people are.

"The kids may think that it's easier to bully that way, and they think because it's not in person, it's not as damaging to the person, but it is," Tabbutt said. "Back in the day, we used to say sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you, but believe me, the words do hurt."

Tabbutt stressed how important it is to call authorities at any possible sign of suicide.

"I can speak for the Sheriff's Office that that's a high priority," Tabbutt said. "Even if we're busy, we'll break away from whatever we're doing to go handle those calls, and we do respond very quickly, we take it very seriously, even if it's happened before."

Aguirre was a student at Ysleta High School. The Ysleta Independent School District released the following statement to KFOX14.

"The YISD community mourns the tragic passing of one of our students. We send our collective thoughts and prayers to the student's family and friends. We encourage students and family members to immediately report all bullying incidents to school administrators. There were no reports of bullying at any of the three schools where the student last attended.

In addition, social media websites are not accessible at any campus through the district's network. We encourage parents to be highly vigilant with their children's online activity."

EPCSO talks cyber bullying following teenage suicide in Lower Valley
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