Family hopes for stricter laws after daughter's suicide from bullying

HOUSTON – Days after 18-year-old Brandy Vela took her life, a small memorial continues to grow at her family's home.

Notes of comfort and support now line the walls of her bedroom.

Raul Vela, Brandy's father said, "Everybody is devastated of course, we lost one of our angels. Everybody's coming together, we're praying."

Brandy's family says the Texas City High School senior had been cyberbullied for months.

They say she got nasty text messages and the bullies had even set up fake social media accounts with her picture and information.

The bullies are said to have used an untraceable app, making it difficult for police to track them.

"She would show me, 'Dad look at all the calls I'm getting. Somebody made a fake Facebook of me and saying all these things about me,' you know," Raul Vela said.

Her father says it all led to a breaking point for Brandy who said she couldn't take it any more Tuesday afternoon before taking her own life.

"I was almost certain that I could persuade her to put that gun down, it didn't work. She pulled the trigger," Raul explained.

The family says they take comfort in the outpouring of support by the community.

And if any good can come from such a tragedy, they hope for stricter laws and more awareness.

"This is something new, something we need to figure out and work through and find how to stop what people are doing through social media," Vela said.

"It's very disturbing to me because I don't think people realize that cyberbullying is a lethal weapon," Dr. Harvey Rosenstock said.

As an adult and child psychiatrist, Rosenstock said all too often, bullies don't realize the impact they have on their victims.

"It's injurious to the internal picture of the self and it's a permanent scar and nobody needs that. Nobody deserves that," he said.

Rosenstock said that's the reason all reports of potential bullying should be taken seriously before it proves tragic.

He also believes more awareness and education about the dangers of cyberbullying are key to making a difference, in what's become a more common occurrence.

"When kids themselves understand that they may be an agent for the destruction of someone's soul, I think they would take this a lot more seriously," Rosenstock said.

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Galveston-born, award-winning journalist, dog owner, foodie & occasional golfer.