Marysville Deaths: Who Is Answering Our Teens on Social Media?


A Startling Tragedy

Three years ago, Juliana Borges, then an 18-year-old senior at Lake Stevens High School, looked at the text on her phone: “Thank you for being such a good friend. I know you’re going to do well in life.” She smiled and went on with her plans for the evening. When she typed back later, she thought nothing of it until the next morning in Spanish class. There, she learned her friend who sent the text had killed himself the night previously.

Today Social Media Opens the World to Teens

Today, their exchange likely would have taken place on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr - Any social-media site whose use has skyrocketed among teens in the past few years. Here’s where messages are often open to the world and where kids call for help. Many times their call is not answered.

After five students at Marysville-Pilchuck High School were shot by a friend, who turned the gun on himself following the situation, updates from teens flooded Twitter—everything from rumors, news, and tidbits of emotion was posted out into the world. The shooter’s Twitter feed was viewable, and it displayed a simmering angst in 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg that went back months. Everyone could see it, but why didn’t anyone answer Jaylen’s call?  The feed was filled with anger and vows of retribution despite the fact that he was popular enough to be crowned homecoming prince of the freshman class.

And within a day of the assault, victim Shaylee Chuckulnaskit age 14, had more than 3,000 people following her Twitter account, even as she lay in a hospital, fighting for her life. She died from her injuries on Friday.

Who's Listening?

Social networks like Facebook are trying out ways to reach students in trouble. It makes you wonder who, if anyone is listening. Could someone have intervened and helped Jaylen get the treatment he needed? They say many young people are far more comfortable typing their pain on a keyboard and hitting “send” than walking into a counselor’s office to ask for help.

Don’t let your teen become like Jaylen. Be aware of your teens social media presence, monitor who they spend time with, and most of all watch for warning signs. Answer those calls and warning signs. Understand there’s help out there for troubled teens like Jaylen. Elevations RTC has special programs to help teens who show warning signs of depression, anger, and, violence.  Call us, and we will be happy to answer any of your questions today at 855-290-9681.