Madam – After reading Donal Lynch's "riddle of suicide" piece (Sunday Independent, January 20, 2013), I am compelled to respond with some clarifications that might perhaps offer a clearer perspective.
I am intimately familiar with Phoebe's family, extended and actual, as I've researched this tragedy since the day after she died. The result was a recent book, Tread Softly: Bullying and the Death of Phoebe Prince, that details the entire story and outlines the actual events that led to her death.
Developing his theory that bullying was less to blame for Phoebe's death than perhaps her mental health, Donal ignored most of the more important aspects of what really happened to her.
There are scores of studies confirming that bullying and cyberbullying can indeed lead to suicide – and that victims are four to 10 times more likely to attempt suicide if they are cyberbullied.
I do not quibble with Donal's theme that there are always multiple causes leading young people to kill themselves. But I do fault him for ignoring very important aspects of this tragedy, and in doing so, lessening the impact of bullying on Phoebe's death.
Lynch suggests everyone grabbed cyberbullying as "the easiest culprit". Sometimes, sad to say, the easiest culprit is indeed the most likely, and correct, culprit.
Hoffman Estates, IL, USA