Almost two years to the date that Suburban Journals
reporter Steve Pokin
broke the news of what's been dubbed the "MySpace murder,
" he's penned another spooky, apparently local tale about technology and teenage suicide.
Once again, readers are left wanting.
So begins Pokin's November 21 "Pokin Around" column
On Tuesday a mother and her 12-year-old daughter sat on opposite ends of their living room sofa and did their best to explain to me why the daughter, a seventh grader, tried to end her life earlier this month.
I asked questions, trying not to press too hard, and ultimately settled for answers I don't fully understand. I have no expertise on adolescent girls. My limited knowledge is that they can be fragile and cruel.
But why would a young person attempt suicide simply because she believes the eighth-grade girls at her school hate her?
I'm not going to name them, or the school. They live in St. Charles County and the school is in the county, too. Without names, some of you will wonder if this story is true. I've weighed that reality against the fact that I'm writing about a young person who recently took about forty 200-milligram ibuprofen pills to try to end her life and is now back in school. I don't want to make her more vulnerable, even though both she and her mother were willing to be named.
In November 2007 Pokin wrote about 13-year-old Megan Meier
, the O'Fallon girl who hung herself in her bedroom closet after being dissed via MySpace by someone named "Josh" -- a character contrived by her best friend's mother.
At the time his "Pokin Around" column appeared, Pokin knew the name of the alleged perpetrator, Lori Drew, from a police report. But "out of consideration for [the Drews'] teenage daughter," he and his Lee Enterprises-owned newspaper decided not to out her.
We all know how that story evolved: ongoing national headlines, a federal prosecution, a new cyber-bullying law for Missouri. Lori Drew and her family, meanwhile, bid adieu
This week, Pokin once again lives up to his column's moniker, telling the suicide story
of a 12-year-old girl in sketchy detail.
The unnamed girl, Pokin says, lives somewhere in St. Charles County.
On November 5, said girl apparently popped a bottle of Ibuprofen after receiving harassing text messages via her cell phone, in her home somewhere in St. Charles County.
Not, like, one message. Or then again, who knows.
Pokin apparently did peruse the cell phone records long enough to report that the teenager sent and received 13,459 text messages in the month of October alone.
He reports that the missive that sent her over the edge may have said something like, "Everybody hates you."
After taking the meds, the unnamed girl texted another friend. That friend called somebody who'd been a babysitter for the girl and who apparently proceeded to drive to the house with police -- just in time to wake the girl's mother and get the girl to the hospital.
Hard to follow the narrative when nobody is named, isn't it?
The good news here is that the girl lived. That's the very reason her mother wanted to tell Pokin their story -- and use their names in doing so.
Besides the obvious omissions, so much more is left unreported. For starters, what of the alleged repeated bullying in this case?
Do we know who sent these apparently eighth-grade-girlie-mean text messages?
Was it one girl? Or many?
Was it somebody's jealous mother playing a prank?
Was/were the bully-ers punished? Admonished? Sent for counseling?
Did the family file a police report?
Is it just Daily RFT, or did the Suburban Journals once again shy away from its journalistic responsibilities?