Authorities in Scotland are investigating reports that Daniel Perry, age 17, committed suicide after being blackmailed over Skype.
The teenager from Dunfermline, Fife, allegedly believed he was talking to an American girl of the same age on the internet video chat site Skype when he was told by blackmailers that the videos had been recorded and would be released to Perry’s friends and family members unless he paid them off. If he chose not to, the blackmailers said, Perry “would be better off dead.”
On July 15, just hours after the threat was made, Perry jumped from the Forth Road Bridge. Though he was alive when rescued by a lifeboat crew, he died a short time later.
“He wasn’t doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do, but this scam is all about exploiting young people,” said Perry’s mother, Nicola.
The tragic incident has added to growing concern in the United Kingdom regarding internet bullying. Perry’s death comes on the heels of the suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith of Leicestershire, England. Smith took her own life after being bullied online on the site ask.fm, where she sought advice about the skin condition eczema. Her suicide sparked widespread criticisms of anonymous website postings and led to advertisers Vodafone and Laura Ashley to withdraw from ask.fm.
“When I feel strong enough I want to do something to stop this happening to other young people,” said Perry’s mother. “I’ll go to the high schools and tell them what can happen. If I can stop this from happening to other young people then I feel I’ll have done something for him.”