Portrait of High School Teen Suicide Victim Retaeh Parsons' Mother. Nova Scotia High School Teen Retaeh Parsons Suicide After Raped Teased & Taunted
Portrait of High School Teen Suicide Victim Retaeh Parsons’ Mother. Nova Scotia High School Teen Retaeh Parsons Suicide After Raped Teased & Taunted

People Magazine commissioned me for a story on teen suicide in Dartmouth/Halifax, Nova Scotia. At 15, Retaeh Parsons was allegedly gang raped at a high school party. Teased and taunted by classmates for a year and a half, Retaeh eventually killed herself. From the story, with reporting by Janine Rayford:

“She knew something terrible had happened, but in the days after a party near her hometown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 15-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons confided in nobody as she tried to piece together the hazy memories swirling in her head: Vodka drinks. Intense nausea. The click of a camera. Days later she arrived at Cole Harbour District High School to discover students clustered in groups, looking alternately at her and an image on their cell phones. Throughout the day, boys sidled up to her in hallways to whisper things like, “Hey, Rehtaeh, you mind if I do that?” and “You’d let me do that, right?” Finally she saw the photo, and “that” became wrenchingly clear: It showed a male student pressed against her naked body in a sexual act, the boy flipping a thumbs-up as Retaeh vomited out a window. Returning home, Retaeh collapsed on the kitchen floor and, between sobs, told her mother and a cousin, “Everybody knows…I can’t go back to school….I want to die.”