Last year, Matthew Burdette committed suicide two weeks after a video of him was put on social media. The video showed him in a boys bathroom stall at University City High School in San Diego. The student who recorded the video claimed that it showed Burdette masturbating.
“It went viral. It went beyond his school. It went to other schools in California. Kids in the neighborhood who didn’t go to Matthew’s school had heard about it and seen the video that was taken of him,” said Laura Burdette, Matthew’s aunt.
On November 29, Burdette took his own life. He left a note saying that he had no friends and couldn’t handle school.
The parents have filed a $1 million lawsuit against his school district. Timothy and Barbara Burdette state that their son was “bullied, harassed and teased” as a result of the video. According to their statement, “Matthew was mercilessly bullied, harassed and teased by students who had seen the video.”
Under the anti-bullying law in California, the boy responsible for filming Burdette could face charges. The San Diego district attorney’s office have set a hearing on July 23 in juvenile court.
The tragic case of Burdette reminds us of the ability of social media to trigger harmful and dangerous bullying. Make sure kids and teenagers are using the internet and social media wisely and safely. Putting something online as a joke can often lead to severe consequences.