Tragic video of 12-year-old girl who livestreamed suicide has gone viral – and police say they're 'powerless' to stop it

By Kirstin Buick
13 January 2017

Katelyn claimed she was being abused by her stepfather, who told her to "hang herself".

With her sparkling blue eyes and infectious smile, you'd never have guessed what was going on beneath the surface in Katelyn Nicole Davis' life.

But the 12-year-old from Cedartown, Georgia in the US, claimed on her blog that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather.

She said this was why she decided to take her own life, hanging herself in her front garden on 30 December. She livestreamed the harrowing moment.

Read more: Mom pens heartbreaking letter after online bullies drove her 17-year-old son to suicide

Emergency services rushed to her aid, but Katelyn was declared dead upon arrival at Polk Medical Center's emergency unit, Fox 5 reports.

Under the username ITZ Dolly, Katelyn shared the 40-minute clip on mobile livestreaming app Live.me and other users later shared on Facebook and YouTube, Mashable reports.

PHOTO: Facebook PHOTO: Facebook

Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd told Fox there's nothing police can do to stop the upsetting footage being shared online.

“We were actually contacted by a police officer from California who saw it the night of the event,” Dodd said after the department was flooded with outraged messages, emails, and phone calls from people demanding the video be removed.

Read more: Teen suicide: Here are warning signs to look out for

“We want it down as much as anyone for the family and it may be harmful to other kids. We contacted some of the sites. They asked if they had to take it down and by law they don’t. But it’s just the common decent thing to do in my opinion.”

A Live.me spokesperson told Mashable the app had "reached out" to Facebook and YouTube to help remove the content.

On her blog, Diary of a Broken Doll, a deeply troubled Katelyn wrote about how she lived in a “poor environment” and that she slept on a “old rusty mattress”, The Daily Haze reports.

On 27 December, she wrote a diary entry about seeing her stepfather “first time in a while” and claims to have been abused by him.

“My stepfather did a lot of things to me, that it seems I cannot forgive him for. He physically, mentally and verbally abused me. He struck me with his leather belt that has silver studs, making sure that the studs hit me.

He once hit me so hard with the belt on my arm, that my arm started to bleed. He even… He tried to rape me.”

She also alleges he told her to "hang myself" and "kill myself".

Dodd told Coosa Valley News that police were investigating Katelyn's abuse claims.

ADVICE FOR PARENTS

Suicide among young people is growing – and the pressures of social media are largely to blame, experts say. Recent figures released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) show one in 10 teenage deaths in the country are due to suicide.

While the reasons someone takes their own life are always complex, experts believe the growing scourge of teen suicide is linked to the uncertain times we live in and the way social media has changed our lives.

But how can you tell if your child is in a situation where they feel they have no way out?

It all comes down to staying connected with your child. Social media makes the teenage years even more challenging because it’s so easy for kids and parents to disconnect even when they’re in the same room.

Make sure there are times when you and your teenager just talk so you get an idea of what’s going on in their lives, Jobrug psychologist Tyrone Edgar says. Teens need to feel their parents are available even while they’re developing a sense of independence. It’s important to remember frequent everyday interactions can build closeness just as much as scheduled time together.

Parents also need to talk to their teens about the problematic side of social media and how it can affect the way they feel about themselves. Establish rules about how to engage with others on social media, Tamara Zanella, a counselling

psychologist from Johannesburg advises.

“For example, parents should explain to their teens that they shouldn’t share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Remind them that once something’s posted, they have no control over who shares it.”

* Sadag is available on 0800-567-567 or SMS 31393 from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week.

Sources: Mirror.co.uk, Mashable, Heavy, Fox 5, Coosa Valley News,The Daily Haze

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