Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain is repeating calls for laws to
be urgently set up to control cyber bullying in light of
another teenager taking her life after she set up a Facebook
page targeting herself.
Dr Bain found 17-year-old Micaela Pinkerton-Stothers from
Tokoroa took her own life on July 24, 2011 - the day after
she and her boyfriend split up.
It was first believed she may have taken her life because of
cyber bullying as a rumour page on Facebook had hateful
messages posted stating Micaela had been pregnant and had an
However, during the inquest into the teenager's death
evidence was given by one of Micaela's friends stating the
pair had set up a gossip rumour page with her posting the
hurtful messages herself using another name.
Micaela appeared distressed by the rumours crying to family
telling them she was being bullied.
Dr Bain said it appeared Micaela hadn't been targeted by
However, in the findings he highlighted a story which ran in
The Daily Post earlier this week about a gossip page which
was naming and shaming local youth and another case involving
15-year-old Hayley-Ann Fenton who took her own life after
being sent threatening messages from her former boyfriend's
Dr Bain said cyber and text bullying was a worrying trend and
there needed to be law reform on the issue.
He repeats previous calls for "laws to control cyber bullying
and cyber communication be brought forward as a matter of
Rotorua Facebook pages, now removed, including Vegas Goss
Tell and Rotorua's Vegas Dramas, have named people as drug
abusers and thieves.
"It is defamatory and cyber bullying and a scary new trend
locally," Dr Bain said in the findings.
Young people today were extremely vulnerable to cyber and
text bullying, sometimes resulting in them taking their own
lives, he said.
The inquest raised very unusual aspects including the setting
up of the Facebook page with the responses monitored, the
coroner stated in the findings.
"Then there is what can only be described as depressive
behaviour with the ringing of her mother and other family
members having them believe how distressed she was at the
bullying comments that had been made about her on Facebook
... in the court's opinion, it simply reinforces the
unsettled state of mind Micaela was in."
Another issue was what young people needed to do if they
received a suicidal type message from a friend, Dr Bain said.
"Time again a close friend will send these messages and
within a short period of time, will have committed suicide.
Young people are concerned about not breaching the
confidences of their friends yet on the other hand after the
event, all wish they had been able to do something about it
and possibly got their friends some help."
He wants new laws introduced around digital media.
A spokeswoman from Minister of Justice Judith Collins' office
said the minister had asked the Law Commission to fast track
a review of the laws around telecommunications and the
Minister Collins is due to take those recommendations to
Parliament in the next two weeks with a public announcement
due to be announced mid to late February.
This will include new laws regarding incitement to instigate
suicide whether the person commits suicide or not and
updating existing digital laws.
- Cherie Taylor of the Daily Post