16th August 2013
A 17 year-old from Fife who committed suicide by jumping from a bridge did so after being bullied and blackmailed online, it has emerged.
Apprentice mechanic Daniel Perry had online conversations with someone he was led to believe was a 17 year-old girl in the US. A recording was used in an attempt to blackmail him on July 15 this year, and he tragically took his own life by jumping from the Forth Road Bridge less than an hour later.
It has also emerged that he had previously been bullied on the social networking question-and-answer site Ask.fm, with the 'trolls' urging him to kill himself. Ask.fm has been in the spotlight recently after other teenagers have killed themselves.
The blackmailer told him that he would be “better off dead” if he failed to meet the demands for money.
Daniel was described by his mother Nicola as a happy teenager and the “last person you would think would their life”, according to a report in the Telegraph. “Knowing him as I do, he has felt embarrassed, horrified and has thought he's let everybody down," she said. "He was coming up for his 18th birthday so it's not as if we could have been checking what he was doing on his laptop. However, he wasn't doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do, but this scam is all about exploiting young people."
She added "Even if he came to me and said he needed money we'd have helped him but we knew nothing about any of it. He was not the type of person who let things get him down. He was a happy laddie, not depressed and the last type of person you would think would take their life.”
Regarding the scam itself, Mrs Perry recalled: Mrs Perry said: "It was a female that he was talking to, she was supposed to be from Illinois. I believe they were talking for a few months and he believed he was talking to this American girl."
Earlier that day, the teenager hadl asked his Twitter followers to Skype him. When the blackmail threat occurred, he responded to the perpetrator by asking: "What can I do to stop you showing this to my family?", to which the response was to pay funds into a named bank account or his life would not be worth living. He replied "bye."
A lifeboat crew pulled Daniel from the river alive, but he died shortly afterwards.
Get Safe Online's advice is: if this kind of thing happens to you, tell the police immediately. If you are a young person, tell a parent or another adult you can trust. You may think that it will cause you embarrassment, but this will only be brief and the main thing is that you remain safe.