A Canadian teenager who suffered an alleged gang-rape and subsequent prolonged bullying has died following a suicide attempt last week, her family said.
Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was initially hospitalized last Thursday after attempting to hang herself. On Sunday, she was taken off life support.
According to CNN, Parsons was just 15 when she was the victim of an alleged gang-rape, and she has been bullied ever since, her family said.
In addition, a photo taken during the alleged incident had been circulated among Parsons’ fellow students through texts and social media, causing the victim to experience suicidal thoughts. Parsons had been struggling to cope with her depression, which was exacerbated after a police investigation failed to yield any criminal charges against her alleged attackers.
Leah Parsons, the girl’s mother, has been interacting with supporters on her daughter’s official Facebook tribute page, “Angel Rehtaeh.”
"Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15-year-old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun," her mother wrote. "All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will not be filing any new charges, CNN reports.
"An investigation was conducted into the alleged sexual assault," spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae told CNN. "In consultation with the crown, the decision was made that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges."
Police confirmed that a photograph that allegedly shows Parsons engaging in a sex act had circulated among computers and mobile phones. While the release of such a picture would technically constitute child pornography, police say they do not have enough evidence to bring charges, CNN reports.
"There are factors in determining other than the picture itself: ages, who sent the material, computers, so it's complex," MacRae said. "We do understand people want the answers, and the big question here is why was it done or why weren't there charges, and we understand that. We're not trying to deflect blame or not be accountable."
Parsons’ funeral is scheduled for Saturday.