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N.Y. police probe possible cyberbullying after girl found hanged

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Sun May 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Girl hangs self at her home in Queens
  • Suicide note mentions cyberbullying, police say
  • Investigation will include look at two computers

New York (CNN) -- A 12-year-old girl found hanged in her home left behind a suicide note that mentioned online bullying, according to police.

Gabrielle Molina was found dead Wednesday afternoon by her family, authorities said.

In addition to interviewing Gabrielle's friends and relatives, police took two computers from the seventh-grader's home to investigate whether harsh online messages and other cyberbullying may have been a factor in driving the young girl to take her life, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters.

"It's a terrible, terrible tragedy," Kelly said Thursday.

Police released few other details.

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Gabrielle's school, Jean Nuzzi Intermediate School 109 in Queens, received an overall rank of B in the city's 2012 school progress reports, but a C in the "School Environment" portion, which includes rankings on safety and respect, communication and engagement.

But Dennis M. Walcott, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, says he takes cyberbullying seriously.

"It's something that I want to make sure we continue to focus on, something I'm very much interested in working with our student population about," he said.

"Kids need to know they're not in this situation by themselves," Thomas Meyers, a crisis counselor sent to the school to talk to Molina's classmates, told CNN affiliate WCBS.

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According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 20% of students report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes, and adolescent girls are specifically likely to have experienced it.

In a 2008 Yale University report published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, researchers analyzed 37 studies that examined bullying and suicide among children and adolescents.

Nearly all of the studies found a link between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among young people, and five even reported that victims of bullying were 2-9 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other young people.

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.

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