An 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge, after his roommate posted a video on the Internet of his intimate encounter with another man.
Authorities are now determining how to charge Dharum Ravi and his friend Molly Wei, also a college student. So far Ravi faces five years in prison for invasion of privacy, but that could increase to ten years if his crime is deemed a "hate crime" against homosexuals. The case is very high-profile, with activists demanding that Ravi and Wei be charged with manslaughter.
The victim, Tyler Clementi, was a violinist majoring in music, whom friends described as "shy and brilliant."
This latest incident is among the higher-profile incidences of cyberbullying, but unfortunately is not the first suicide of a young person linked to that activity. A Massachusetts high school student, newly arrived from Ireland, hanged herself after being teased publicly on the Internet; in 2008, an 18-year-old girl committed suicide after her boyfriend circulated nude pictures of her; and 13-year-old Seth Welsh also killed himself after cyberbullying incidents.
Legal experts point out that the statutes in New Jersey and other states have simply not kept up with technology.
Ironically, Rutgers University officials were implementing a new course to teach students how to be civil while they are on the Internet.