13-year-old Hope Witsell was like any other girl from the distant, rural suburbs of Tampa -- blond, perhaps a bit awkward and pimply, and desperately trying to make herself shine for the boy she was sweet on.
So, as 13-year-olds are prone to do, she made a very bad move. She sent the boy a picture of herself topless. As you can imagine, this didn't turn out so well.
Someone using the boy's phone intercepted the photo. And he naturally had to share this treasure with everyone else. Soon, the picture was not just a must-see at Beth Shields Middle School, but at surrounding schools as well...
It got Hope the attention she craved, but not in a good way. Her friends would surround her like body guards as she walked the hallways at school, trying to fend off the cruelty of classmates as they yelled "whore" and "slut."
"The hallways were not fun at that time," friend Lane James told the St. Petersburg Times. "She'd walk into class and somebody would say, 'Oh, here comes the slut.' "
The taunting no doubt got to the girl. "Tons of people talk about me behind my back and I hate it because they call me a whore!" she wrote in her diary. "And I can't be a whore. I'm too inexperienced. So secretly, TONS of people hate me."
School officials discovered the photo shortly after the spring semester ended. The A and B student would be suspended for the first week of the next school year, administrators told her parents. Mom and Dad responded by grounding her for the summer.
But she was allowed to attend a Future Farmers of America convention in Orlando. That's where Hope fell to stupid decision-making again. The boys staying across the hall badgered her for a photo of her boobs, and she eventually complied.
When school began this fall, administrators banned her from being a student adviser to the farm group. And Hope admitted to her parents that she was now being unmercifully ridiculed as the local skank.
In September, school counselors found that she'd been cutting herself. Unfortunately, these were paint-by-the-numbers education people. They did have her sign a "no-harm contract," agreeing to talk to an adult whenever she felt like cutting, but for some reason they didn't see fit to contact her parents.
"I'm done for sure now," Hope wrote in her diary the next day. "I can feel it in my stomach. I'm going to try and strangle myself. I hope it works."
Her mom went to Hope's bedroom that evening to kiss her goodnight. That's when she found Hope hanging from from the canopy of her bed, a pink scarf tied around her neck. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.