By Katy Hastings
A teenager committed suicide after her life was made a misery when her ex-boyfriend circulated a nude photo she had sent him around her school.
_____ hanged herself in her bedroom just weeks after appearing on TV to tell her story and stop others suffering in the same way.
The 18-year-old from Ohio had been harassed by the girls at her school so badly she was miserable, depressed and even afraid to attend classes.
Now her mother, _____, has spoken of the tragic loss as she took her grief public in a bid to warn young people of the dangers of sending sexually charged photos and messages via mobile phone - an act known as 'sexting'.
She told MSNBC's Today programme: 'She was vivacious. She was fun. She was artistic. She was compassionate. She was a good kid.
'It’s very, very difficult. She’s my only child. I’m trying my best to get the message out there.'
Sexting is a growing problem that has resulted in child pornography charges being filed against some teens across the U.S.
Last year the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed teens and young adults about sexting or posting such materials online.
The results revealed that 39 per cent of teens in the US had sent or posted sexually suggestive messages, and 48 per cent reported receiving such messages.
Mrs _____ said she never knew the full extent of her daughter’s anguish until it was too late. She only learned there was a problem at all when she started getting daily letters from her daughter’s school reporting that the young woman was skipping school.
'I only had snapshots, bits and pieces, until the very last semester of school,' she said.
She took away her daughter’s car and drove her to school herself, but _____ still refused to go to school.
She told her mother there were pictures involved and that a group of younger girls who had received them were harassing her, calling her vicious names, even throwing objects at her.
_____'s friend _____ told NBC News: 'She was being attacked and tortured. When she would come to school, she would always hear, ‘Oh, that’s the girl who sent the picture. She’s just a whore.’'
Mrs _____ said officials at the school were aware of the harassment but did not take sufficient action to stop it.
She said that the school said they would help but only offered to go to one of the girls - aged 16 - who had the pictures and tell her to delete them from her phone and never speak to _____ again.
Mrs _____ suggested talking to the parents of the girls who were bullying _____, but her daughter said that would only open her to even more ridicule.
'She said, ‘No, I need to do something else. I’m going to go on the news,’ and that’s what she did.'
_____ had been talking about going to the University of Cincinnati to study graphic design. Her mother thought she was over the worst of the bullying.
Then one of _____’s acquaintances committed suicide. She went to the funeral but when she came home, she hanged herself.
'I just had a scan of the room, her closet doors were open,' Mrs _____ told NBC News. 'And I walked over into her room and saw her hanging. The cell phone was in the middle of the floor.'
After her daughter’s death, her mother quit her job and was in hospital for a time with what she described as 'a mental breakdown'.
Mrs _____ said she’s been through six lawyers in what has so far been an unsuccessful battle to hold school officials responsible for the bullying of her daughter.
Parry Aftab, an Internet security expert and activist in the battle to protect teens from the dangers of cyberspace, said there were laws that applied in this case.
"It depends on the age of the child. If somebody’s under the age of 18, it’s child pornography, and even the girl that posted the pictures can be charged. They could be registered sex offenders at the end of all of this."
'Even at the age of 18, because it was sent to somebody under age, it’s disseminating pornography to a minor. There are criminal charges that could be made here.'
Mr Aftab said that it is normal kids just like _____ who fall victim to the perils of the internet and the easy exchange of information on mobile phones.