The tragic death of a Morristown High School student last Wednesday has police investigating whether bullying was a factor. According to sources, the freshman died in his home in Morris Township by hanging himself after school. If evidence shows that the teen was a victim of bullying and that the death was the result of bullying, the aggressors could face criminal charges.
Law enforcement officials from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit have not indicated what type of bullying the student may have endured. They are likely investigating bullying at school, in the community and over the internet.
Holding “bullies” liable for suicide is a recent trend, particularly with the increasing awareness of “cyber-bullying” and the threat that it poses to teens. However, it also raises questions about whether we are taking criminal liability too far, particularly when someone chooses to take their own life.
This month, Rutgers student was found guilty of 15 counts, including invasion of privacy, witness tampering, evidence tampering, as well as bias intimidation (hate crimes), charges when his roommate killed himself after alleged bullying. The defendant claims that he did not participate in any bullying or hate crimes.
This is another tragic case involving a teen who clearly suffered anguish and pain, despite what was known by his family and peers. The victim’s family and friends agree that, “No one should ever be bullied to the point where they feel they need to take their own life.” What do you think? Should bullies be criminally liable for suicide of bully victims?
NBC New York, “Bullying Eyed in NJ Teen’s Apparent Suicide: Sources,” April 1, 2012.