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Teen Suicide
Megan Meier and Her Parents

"You´re supposed to be my mom. You´re supposed to be on my side."

"Putting Megan on medication does not make Mom a better mother." S. Hein 2001
"Punishing Lori Drew will not make Tina and Ron Meier better parents." S. Hein 2008


In the mother's own words:

This is the part I will never forgive myself for because she, um, she was looking for me to help, um, calm her down like I normally always did, and be there for her, and I was upset with her because I didn't like the language that she was using and, um, I was upset that she didn't listen to me and sign off when I told her to, and um, so I was aggravated with her about that and told her that she knew better and, um, she just said to me "You´re supposed to be my mom. You´re supposed to be on my side." and she took off running upstairs.

Then in the longer video the reporter says "It was too quiet, for too long in that upstairs bedroom." Then the father says in the next clip:

Tina left, walked upstairs. I didn't really pay much attention to it.


Note I started this page on Feb 24 and continued working on it on Feb 25 and Feb 26. It is stil under construction. I haven't even spell checked it yet.

S: Hein

Feb 27 Notes


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Feb 24, 2008

The video clip above is from this longer video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFsfDLCkfQU

Normally I would feel very critical of the mother. Today, while I feel critical, I also feel some sympathy for the mother. And I feel a desire to help prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. (How I found out about Megan and her parents)

Anyhow, I suppose my lack of usual hostility towards mothers of suicidal and depressed teenagers is less today than usual is partly because I have been spending a lot of time with a mother of a teenage girl recently. I have seen them crying together and I have been trying to help them both. The mother has been giving me a lot of hugs and has been trying to help me. She is a very sweet person who was emotionally abused by her parents. She told me the story of how her mother was adopted, then how there were many problems in her mother's life, including her real mother and her adopted mother later fighting for custody of her. It is easy to see the cause and effect relationships because I am learning about three generations of pain. At present all three are living in the same house - the grandmother, the mother who has been giving me hugs (and receiving them from me when she is in pain) and the teenage daughter.

But back to the video.

I want to make sure people note a couple of things. First, Megan's mother was the last person to see her before she ran to her room to hang herself. The mother was the person who had the best chance of saving her life, and in fact I would say she was the person who gave Megan the nudge to jump off the cliff (using the

The father was not there emotionally for his daughter. He did not protect her from his wife. He was there physically, but he was the absent father emotionally. By the time he got to her room, it was too late.

I would like schools to start teaching what emotional abuse is. What invalidation means. How to show understanding and give emotional support. Megan was in pain when she was talking to her mother. The mother only made it worse.

Megan's parents want the other parents to be punished. Rather than taking any responsibility for their role in Megan's suicide, they are putting their energy into blaming someone else and seeking "justice", or more specifically, punishment, or we might say "revenge." I notice that there was a cross on the wall of Megan's bedroom. You can also see in some of the videos that the father is wearing an angel pin. And her new school was the

Some questions:

Were Megan's parents guilty of over protecting and over-controlling their daughter? In one video the mother says she did not allow Megan to go to the mall.

Other questions are why Megan was depressed and why she had self-esteem problems, as the father said she did.

At one point in one video the reporter calls Megan a "lonely girl". But why was she lonely? Why did she feel alone? Did her mother help her feel more alone or less alone the last time she spoke to her, or perhaps shouted at her?

Why was the kind of language Megan using more important than her life? Why was her obedience more important than her life?

It might seem unfair to ask these questions, but it is clear that when Megan was in pain from the hurtful online comments, the mother's priorities were not Megan's pain. The mother's priorities were Megan's language and her obedience or disobedience. If the mother had felt Megan's pain, in other words empathy, she would have probably offered her a comforting hug. I am guessing that Megan felt lectured to rather than comforted or understood. It was Megan's pain that cuased her to feel such an intense need to stop the hurting. The mother added to the pain because of the mothers own needs for Megan to use language the mother approved of and because of the mother's own need to feel obeyed and in control. So we can conclude that in Megan's last final moments of pain, the mother's needs took priority over Megan's needs, and in a very real sense, Megan's life.

I have never before seen such an admission by a mother. This is the first time I have come across such strong evidence to support my case that mother's can cause, or prevent, their teenage son's or daugter's suicide. The father also played a role. In the report written by

Most of the talk about this case now is about how to make something like what Lori Drew did a crime. But what about what Megan's mother did? Or her father? What about what they failed to do?

And wouldn't it be better to start educating every high school student on key emotional skills such as listening and validation? And wouldn't it be better to teach what invalidation is than pass more laws which will put more people in jail? And wouldn't it be better for news reporters to ask a few more questions to the parents of any teenager who kills themself? And for the reporters to look a little further for cause and effect relationships? For example, why did Megan have low self-esteem? Are the parents in any way responsible for this? In 1996 I wrote about parenting and self-esteem. I suggested that the number one source of a child or teenager's self-esteem is the the parents. I realize there are many factors, but I still believe this is the number one influence.

As long as news reporters continue to fail to provide more complete information in teen suicide cases, I suggest they also are partly responsible. Journalists could do much more to inform the public about the real cause of teen depression and teen suicide. But the truth will probably not help them sell papers or advertising. I haven't said much yet about the fact that Megan's parents seem to be what they would call "Christians". I haven't commented on Megan's mother's values or her job as a real estate agent. But if I were to put everything together which I have learned about teen suicide, I suspect that very few American media corporations would interview me and share my findings or opinions.

It probably would not be good business to even suggest we blame Megan's parents. Not in a materialistic, punitive, Christian society.

I hope that one day the United States and other countries around the world will seek more understanding and less punishment. This brings to mind my question: What if we had more understanders and fewer judges?

And what if someone had been asking Megan how she felt and really listening, rather than trying so hard to control and protect her? From my experience with suicidal teens, they don't share the same values and beliefs as their parents. This causes them conflict and turmoil. It causes them to feel alone, not understood, disappointing to their parents.

My website contains an abudance of information about teen suicide and parenting. It is all free for those who have the desire to educate themselves. I feel very sad that I could not have reached Megan or her parents before it was too late for them. I ask that anyone who cares about either parents or teens take what I am saying very, very seriously. I feel more empathy for Megan's father. He doesn't seem as controlling as the mother. He doesn't seem as motivated by "justice". He probably feels more depressed and less combative than the mother. He probably would have been able to give Megan the emotional support she needed that day, had he only been given the education.

This case could be used to educate millions of parents and teenagers alike. I suspect, though, that it will not be used in many schools as the educational tool or lesson which I am suggesting. It would disturb too many people. It would disturb them to be forced to question what it means to be a good parent, or what it means to be a Christian. (I haven't even commented on the issue of forgiveness yet). It would disturb them to be forced to look at the values in American society. What did the Meier parents really value? Again, I remind you that the mother is in real estate. Genreally speaking, what is important to real estate agents? What makes a "successful" real estate agent? Are these the same qualities that make an emotionally supportive mother? And what do Christians, in general, really value? What are their real priorities, not their stated ones? What is really important in a Christian family?



Now I just did some searching on the Immaculate Conception school Megan went to. It is a Catholic school. Here is one thing from their website:

Immaculate Conception Catholic School is a community of people working together to foster the full development of young people in a Christian environment.

I found it by searching Google for "maculate conception dardenne"

Then I used the school sites own search to look for "meier". I found a page that said this, which confirmed it was the right school

Prayer Corner…We pray:                                                           

For recovery:   Nancy Driscoll; Rita Brown; Mr. Cossette; Dan Carroll; Robert Bigliano; Mary Darst; Lois Apple; Steve Bennett; Dolores Merz; Mr. & Mrs. Driscoll; Louis Markway, Mrs. John Craine; Mark & Debbie Hann;  Ron Meir, father of Allison Meier.

Here is a copy of that page. It gives you an insight into Catholic schools, particulary in the USA

(Something odd... when I tried this same in-site search it did not work several hours later.)


Something I wrote several years ago which used the name "Megan".

Abuse and Social Services

As I have seen it, a major problem is that many of the abused teens are "only" being abused emotionally now, so social service workers do not put a high priority on such cases. They are simply too overworked. Another problem is that often they are not even aware of suicidal teens before it is too late. Even when they are aware they can do very little to fill the teens' unmet emotional needs or to stop their emotional pain. Psychiatrists often try to put the teen on medication. But medication does not fill their emotional needs, nor does it make their parents better fathers or mothers. As I have say it,

"Putting Megan on medication does not make Mom a better mother."

This is so obvious, yet it needs to be said again and again until systems and beliefs are changed to reflect reality.

From my observations, the greatest source of pain for these teens is feeling a lack of caring, respect, acceptance, support, and understanding from their own parents or whoever they are living with and has control over them. To oversimplify, one can say it is coming from a lack of love - the love a parent normally gives those human beings entrusted to them. But social services workers can't force parents/ guardians to give love. Nor can they force them to either a) show caring, respect, acceptance or b) feel caring, respectful, accepting. If the feelings are not there, the behavior will never follow. And if the adult tries to show something which he or she does not truly feel, then any intelligent, sensitive teen will know the behavior is fake.

From http://eqi.org/tsr1.htm




Here is something I found... (source)

Could it be that the parents don't want to look at themselves and how they were managing Megan's depression? (Could they be in denial about their own role in creating her depression in the first place?)

I agree. I would say the parents, particulary the mother, was a primary cause of Megan's depression and low-self esteem.

But later this writer says this

So who's the real culprit here? I have a funny feeling it's the meds. And why aren't people talking about this more?

There's an astonishing lack of outcry against the medications Megan was taking. We already know that anti-depressants can increase the risk of suicides among children and teens. So why aren't the parents questioning the drug companies that sold these medications to them? Why isn't the media exploring that angle of the story?

I disagree that the "meds" could be the "real culprit". I sincerely believe that if Megan had been born into a different family, a different culture, she would not have been so depressed and therefore would never have been put on medication in the first place.

Megan was mostly likely another intelligent, sensitve teen whose parents didn't give her the emotional support she needed to survive in a competitive, violent, hurtful, "success"-oriented, materialistic society.

Editorial about so called chemical-imbalances

The Bipolar Label


I just wrote

Megan was mostly likely another intelligent, sensitve teen whose parents didn't give her the emotional support she needed to survive in a competitive, violent, hurtful, "success"-oriented, materialistic society.

I believe it is fairly obvious that the United States is a highly competitive, success-oriented and materialistic society. The amount of "cyber-bullying" and flaming are ample evidence of the hurtfulness. But I want to remind readers that Megan's parents smashed the foosball table with an ax and a sledgehammer. While this is just one clue to how they manage their feelings, and their pain from losing their daughter and finding out their once friend was the mastermind of the MySpace account is obviously understandable, I still believe it is an important fact. From my experience with Catholics, I would also not at all be surprised if Megan's mother had physically hit Megan or at least slapped her in the past. Many Christians and Catholics believe physical punishment is not only acceptable, but necessary. For more examples of religion and physical abuse, see www.nospank.net


How the media has reported this

Here is one example of how the media has reported this.


The cyber exchange devastated Megan, who was unable to understand how and why her friendship unraveled. The stress and frustration was too much for Megan, who had a history of depression.

Tina Meier discovered her daughter's body in a bedroom closet on Oct. 16, 2006. Megan had hanged herself and died a day later.

Notice how this report jumps from the cyber exchange which was said to be "too much" for Megan, to the mother finding her body in the bedroom closet. There is no mention of the verbal exchange between the Megan and her mother just before Megan ran upstairs and hanged herself. I suggest that the cyber bullying was not actually "too much" for Megan. I suggest instead that if the mother had provide Megan with acceptance, caring, understanding, patient, non-judgmental listening, validation, and a hug -- in other words emotional support -- Megan could have survived the pain from the hurtful words she read online.

I believe that what was actually "too much" for Megan, and what pushed her over the edge, was the pain from the lack of understanding and the hurtful attacks by the mother. The mother admits on camera that she said to Megan "you know better". The mother also admits she had not accepted Megan's language. She also admits that she felt "aggravated" because Megan didn't obey her (although the mother says she didn't "listen" to her).



From http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312018,00.html


The next day, as Megan's mother headed out the door to take another daughter to the orthodontist, she knew Megan was upset about Internet messages. She asked Megan to log off. Users on MySpace must be at least 14, though Megan was not when she opened her account. A MySpace spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Someone using Josh's account was sending cruel messages. Then, Megan called her mother, saying electronic bulletins were being posted about her, saying things like, "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat."

Megan's mother, who monitored her daughter's online communications, returned home and said she was shocked at the vulgar language her own daughter was sending. She told her daughter how upset she was about it.

Megan ran upstairs, and her father, Ron, tried to tell her everything would be fine. About 20 minutes later, she was found in her bedroom. She died the next day.

Backup copy


Here is a quote from xxxx

"But I doubt it's really going to lead to the type of punishment people really want to see, which is this woman being held responsible for this girl's death," she said.

Here we see someone saying "punishment" instead of justice. We also see the use of the word "resonsible". One definition I have heard for responsible is "ability to respond". I would ask, who actually had the best chance to respond when Megan was in pain from the hurtful messages? Who could have prevented Megan's suicide? Could an understanding, emotionally supportive mother have prevented it?

If we think of responsibility as "cause", we need to ask who and or what caused the intense pain that Megan felt which motivated her to hang herself as a way of stopping it. I would say there were many sources of pain in Megan's life, many causes. But what was the straw that broke the camel's back? Whose words were ultimately the most hurtful to Megan? Whose words were the least helpful? We know that her mother said to Megan "You know better." This is the only direct quote I have seen from the mother in her own words. We also know from one of the Fox News reports that the father tried to tell her that everything would be fine. This is a clear example of invalidation. I suspect that the father has never heard of the word invalidation. The father is a machinist, according to the Seattle Times story below. If the father would have learned something about validation and emotional support in his education, could he have prevented Megan's suicide? I believe the answer is yes.

I believe that he is a person with good intentions and a good heart. I believe he has the emotional intelligence ability to learn about things like emotional literacy, listening, validation and invalidation. I believe he was just never taught any of these things in school, or in church.


Here is what I wrote on Feb 24, 2008 when I found out about Megan and her parents

I am feeling depressed myself today so I don't have a lot of energy to write a lot about this right now. I found this story when I typed "suicide" into the YouTube search box. I was feeling suicidal myself today. That's why I went to YouTube and searched on the word "suicide".

Before that I had typed in the word "death" in Google and found some time clock thing. I also searched Google for "suicide chat" and I tried a couple of sites but nothing was very interesting to me. That is when I went to YouTube.

Feb 27, 2008 1:33 AM

What is important in the family?

Straight teeth are important.

Being on time is important.

Money is important. (If they were late or missed the appointment they might be charged for it anyhow.)

I would guess that Megan´s grades were important.

I would guess that winning is important.

It seems that not using what the mother considered bad language was important.

It seems that obedience was important.

Why didn't the father take Allison to the orthodontist?

Why didn't he sit with Megan while she was on the computer?

Why didn't he go upstairs to comfort her?

Why did Megan call her mother on her cell phone and not tell her father, who apparently was at home at the time?

Why didn't any of the reporters ask if he was home or ask any of these questions?

Why didn't the police?

Why don't police investigate teen suicides as thoroughly as they do murders?

Why didn't any of the reporters ask why she had low self esteem or why she had been depressed or why she had tried to kill herself when she was in the third grade?

Why didn't they ask the mother why she waited so long to go upstairs if she knew that Megan had a history of depression, had tried to kill herself before, was on medication and was very upset?

Why are so many people blaming the Drew family and not Megan's parents?

People are criticizing Lori Drew for doing what she did, knowing that Megan was depressed and on medication, but Megan's parents knew even more about her condition. Why aren't people commenting on that?

Why did Megan say Neglected for the N in her name?

Would it be fair to say that it was emotional neglect to let her suffer alone upstairs while they were downstairs making dinner?

I am also guessing that eating meals together was important in the family and that coming downstairs when she was told to was important.

See chat with Helen

7:11 AM I woke up thinking about this again. I thought "Punishing Lori Drew will not make Tina and Ron better parents." I thought about starting an email campaign to journalists, and journalism departments and students to ask them to look at this page and talk about how to report and investigate teen suicide. This case could serve to change many minds. Or to open many eyes. But it will be very controversial. It strikes at some of the most sacred and "untouchable" American and Christian values and beliefs. The beliefs about what is really important in life for example, and what it means to be a "good" parent, a "good" daughter, a "good" student or a good person. It makes us question what it means to be successful. Were the Meiers successful? If Tina Meier were considered a successful real estate agent, would that make her a successful mother or successful person? What is it really important to succeed at in American or British or Canadian or Australian or German, or French society? Do some cultures have healthier values, beliefs and priorities? Do some cultures define success differently? Are some definitions better for humanity?

I think about the British Empire, and how the King of England would send his soldiers around the world to kill others and take their land. I wonder what would make someone a successful soldier back then. I wonder what makes someone a successful soldier now. I wonder what the emotional differences are between a successful soldier and a successful high school student. Last night I was chatting with someone who comes from a religious family. She said her parents had ordered her to go to the high school basketball game. I remember when I was in high school, and even at Indiana University. I thought winning basketball games was important. I thought winning was important. I didn't think preventing wars was important. I was a product of the American culture. I have suffered a lot of pain largely as a result of that. My father was raised as a Catholic and his funeral was in the local Catholic church. My mother had been raised by Orthodox parents. She had a picture of Jesus on the wall in her house the last time I was there. Did my parents religious beliefs make them better parents? Or would some parenting courses have made them better parents? Some courses like those Thomas Gordon used to give. Now the selling of his courses has become a big business, but I liked his original ideas, and I suspect they would still help many parents. I wonder if Tina and Ron Meier might have been able to save their daughter's life had they attended Thomas Gordon parenting classes. I wonder if their time would have been better invested in Parent Effectiveness Training classes instead of religious activities. In the Catholic church, as all Catholics or former Catholics know, there is much time spent in church and studying the Catholic beliefs. In the Catholic religion there is a lot of value put on winning, on sports, on competition, and on appearances (school uniforms for example).

There is also a high value placed on "discipline". This usually includes many unheathly doses of threats and punishments, and in the past included much physical punishment. Almost any Catholic knows how important it is to obey the rules in the Catholic church. Rules that get handed down from the Pope and are almost impossible to question. In a Catholic school, control will be a very high priority. Students will be punished for being late, for example. This has not changed much over the years. The difference is that in the past students were hit for being late, no matter what the reason was. Keeping busy is also very highly valued in the Catholic church and in a typical Catholic school. My uncle was a football couch in a Catholic school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. All my cousins in that family attended the school. I saw how busy the family members always were with school and church activities whenever I went there to visit.

Last night I told my high school friend who had to go to the basketball game that sports is a great distraction. It is a great way to take people's minds off their pain for a short time. It is a great way for them to avoid thinking about the suffering in the rest of the world while they are cheering for their team. I used to cheer for "my" teams, too. Till I realized that winning basketball and football games actually meant almost nothing at all. It means almost nothing at all when compared to prevent war, for example. Unfortunately, the focus, even obsession with winning, carries right over to winning wars. But I am becoming more of the opinion that there are no winners in a war. The whole world suffers. I believe we are intelligent enough to solve our conflicts without wars. But we have to spend time thinking about how to do this. If we are busy studying for tests and going to basketball games, we won't have enough time to think about how to prevent war. We won't even have time to think about how to prevent divorce. Or teen suicide.

There is one teenager now who wants to help me with my work. She believes helping prevent teen suicide is more important than going to basketball games or even studying for her exams. But because she is legally a "minor", regardless of how intelligent, mature, caring or wise she is, she can not make her own decisions. She will be punished for disobeying her parents. Most people just accept this as normal and a given. It is normal these days, but it is not a given. Nature did not create jails and systems of punishment for disobedience. Man did. In the distant past a teenager was free to run, literally run, as fast as he or she could to get away from someone who was abusing him or her. There were no laws that gave others the legal right and power to grab that teenager and take them back to a place they did not want to be. If they could out run their parents, they could be free. These days that is impossible. Not because teenagers no longer need the freedom to make choices about their own lives, but because the adults have created an almost airtight system of keeping teenagers within it. It is so airtight in fact, some can not find the oxygen they need and they suffocate.

I have been writing about teen suicide for several years. I have been talking directly to depressed, self-harming and suicidal teens. It would not be unreasonable to say that I have more documented conversations with depressed teenagers than anyone in the world. I have only posted a fraction of them. I simply do not have the time to edit them to take out the identifying details. In fact, I am asking for people to help me with this. Sadly, the people most willing to help have been teenagers themselves, but they are not in control of their time or lives. Their parents can punish them by taking away their laptops or their Internet service at the sole discretion of the parents. The teens have no one to turn to. No recourse. No system of appeals. There is no justice system for teenagers. A parent can take away a teenagers laptop for 1 day or forever. There is no legislation to prevent this. A parent can block sites like mine, so their teenager can not learn about emotional abuse, emotionally abusive mothers, or or abuse of power.

Well, if you would like to help me try to stop teen suicide, please write to me.



From the St Louis Post Dispatch

His name was Josh Evans. He was 16 years old. And he was hot.

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!" Tina Meier recalls her daughter saying.

Josh had contacted Megan Meier through her MySpace page and wanted to be added as a friend.Yes, he's cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. "Do you know who he is?"

"No, but look at him! He's hot! Please, please, can I add him?"

Mom said yes. And for six weeks Megan and Josh - under Tina's watchful eye - became acquainted in the virtual world of MySpace.

Josh said he was born in Florida and recently had moved to O'Fallon. He was homeschooled. He played the guitar and drums.

He was from a broken home: "when i was 7 my dad left me and my mom and my older brother and my newborn brother 3 boys god i know poor mom yeah she had such a hard time when we were younger finding work to pay for us after he loeft."

As for 13-year-old Megan, of Dardenne Prairie, this is how she expressed who she was:

M is for Modern

E is for Enthusiastic

G is for Goofy

A is for Alluring

N is for Neglected.

She loved swimming, boating, fishing, dogs, rap music and boys. But her life had not always been easy, her mother says.

She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. She had attention deficit disorder and battled depression. Back in third grade she had talked about suicide, Tina says, and ever since had seen a therapist.

But things were going exceptionally well. She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5˝ inches tall.

She had just started eighth grade at a new school, Immaculate Conception, in Dardenne Prairie, where she was on the volleyball team. She had attended Fort Zumwalt public schools before that.

Amid all these positives, Tina says, her daughter decided to end a friendship with a girlfriend who lived down the street from them. The girls had spent much of seventh grade alternating between being friends and, the next day, not being friends, Tina says.

Part of the reason for Megan's rosy outlook was Josh, Tina says. After school, Megan would rush to the computer.

"Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem," Tina says. "And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty."

It did seem odd, Tina says, that Josh never asked for Megan's phone number. And when Megan asked for his, she says, Josh said he didn't have a cell and his mother did not yet have a landline.

And then on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, Megan received a puzzling and disturbing message from Josh. Tina recalls that it said: "I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends."

Frantic, Megan shot back: "What are you talking about?"


Tina Meier was wary of the cyber-world of MySpace and its 70 million users. People are not always who they say they are.

Tina knew firsthand. Megan and the girl down the block, the former friend, once had created a fake MySpace account, using the photo of a good-looking girl as a way to talk to boys online, Tina says. When Tina found out, she ended Megan's access.

MySpace has rules. A lot of them. There are nine pages of terms and conditions. The long list of prohibited content includes sexual material. And users must be at least 14.

"Are you joking?" Tina asks. "There are fifth-grade girls who have MySpace accounts."

As for sexual content, Tina says, most parents have no clue how much there is. And Megan wasn't 14 when she opened her account. To join, you are asked your age but there is no check. The accounts are free.

As Megan's 14th birthday approached, she pleaded for her mom to give her another chance on MySpace, and Tina relented.

She told Megan she would be all over this account, monitoring it. Megan didn't always make good choices because of her ADD, Tina says. And this time, Megan's page would be set to private and only Mom and Dad would have the password.


Monday, Oct. 16, 2006, was a rainy, bleak day. At school, Megan had handed out invitations to her upcoming birthday party and when she got home she asked her mother to log on to MySpace to see if Josh had responded.

Why did he suddenly think she was mean? Who had he been talking to?

Tina signed on. But she was in a hurry. She had to take her younger daughter, Allison, to the orthodontist.

Before Tina could get out the door it was clear Megan was upset. Josh still was sending troubling messages. And he apparently had shared some of Megan's messages with others.

Tina recalled telling Megan to sign off.

"I will Mom," Megan said. "Let me finish up."

Tina was pressed for time. She had to go. But once at the orthodontist's office she called Megan: Did you sign off?

"No, Mom. They are all being so mean to me."

"You are not listening to me, Megan! Sign off, now!"

Fifteen minutes later, Megan called her mother. By now Megan was in tears.

"They are posting bulletins about me." A bulletin is like a survey. "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat."

Megan was sobbing hysterically. Tina was furious that she had not signed off.

Once Tina returned home she rushed into the basement where the computer was. Tina was shocked at the vulgar language her daughter was firing back at people.

"I am so aggravated at you for doing this!" she told Megan.

Megan ran from the computer and left, but not without first telling Tina, "You're supposed to be my mom! You're supposed to be on my side!"

On the stairway leading to her second-story bedroom, Megan ran into her father, Ron.

"I grabbed her as she tried to go by," Ron says. "She told me that some kids were saying horrible stuff about her and she didn't understand why. I told her it's OK. I told her that they obviously don't know her. And that it would be fine."

Megan went to her room and Ron went downstairs to the kitchen, where he and Tina talked about what had happened, the MySpace account, and made dinner.

Twenty minutes later, Tina suddenly froze in mid-sentence.

"I had this God-awful feeling and I ran up into her room and she had hung herself in the closet."

Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday.

Later that day, Ron opened his daughter's MySpace account and viewed what he believes to be the final message Megan saw - one the FBI would be unable to retrieve from the hard drive.

It was from Josh and, according to Ron's best recollection, it said, "Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you."


Tina and Ron saw a grief counselor. Tina went to a couple of Parents After Loss of Suicide meetings, as well.

They tried to message Josh Evans, to let him know the deadly power of mean words. But his MySpace account had been deleted.

The day after Megan's death, they went down the street to comfort the family of the girl who had once been Megan's friend. They let the girl and her family know that although she and Megan had their ups and down, Megan valued her friendship.

They also attended the girl's birthday party, although Ron had to leave when it came time to sing "Happy Birthday." The Meiers went to the father's 50th birthday celebration. In addition, the Meiers stored a foosball table, a Christmas gift, for that family.

Six weeks after Megan died, on a Saturday morning, a neighbor down the street, a different neighbor, one they didn't know well, called and insisted that they meet that morning at a counselor's office in northern O'Fallon.

The woman would not provide details. Ron and Tina went. Their grief counselor was there. As well as a counselor from Fort Zumwalt West Middle School.

The neighbor from down the street, a single mom with a daughter the same age as Megan, informed the Meiers that Josh Evans never existed.

She told the Meiers that Josh Evans was created by adults, a family on their block. These adults, she told the Meiers, were the parents of Megan's former girlfriend, the one with whom she had a falling out. These were the people who'd asked the Meiers to store their foosball table.

The single mother, for this story, requested that her name not be used. She said her daughter, who had carpooled with the family that was involved in creating the phony MySpace account, had the password to the Josh Evans account and had sent one message - the one Megan received (and later retrieved off the hard drive) the night before she took her life.

"She had been encouraged to join in the joke," the single mother said.

The single mother said her daughter feels the guilt of not saying something sooner and for writing that message. Her daughter didn't speak out sooner because she'd known the other family for years and thought that what they were doing must be OK because, after all, they were trusted adults.

On the night the ambulance came for Megan, the single mother said, before it left the Meiers' house her daughter received a call. It was the woman behind the creation of the Josh Evans account. She had called to tell the girl that something had happened to Megan and advised the girl not to mention the MySpace account.


The Meiers went home and tore into the foosball table.

Tina used an ax and Ron a sledgehammer. They put the pieces in Ron's pickup and dumped them in their neighbor's driveway. Tina spray painted "Merry Christmas" on the box.

According to Tina, Megan had gone on vacations with this family. They knew how she struggled with depression, that she took medication.

"I know that they did not physically come up to our house and tie a belt around her neck," Tina says. "But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old - with or without mental problems - it is absolutely vile.

"She wanted to get Megan to feel like she was liked by a boy and let everyone know this was a false MySpace and have everyone laugh at her.

"I don't feel their intentions were for her to kill herself. But that's how it ended."


That same day, the family down the street tried to talk to the Meiers. Ron asked friends to convince them to leave before he physically harmed them.

In a letter dated Nov. 30, 2006, the family tells Ron and Tina, "We are sorry for the extreme pain you are going through and can only imagine how difficult it must be. We have every compassion for you and your family."

The Suburban Journals have decided not to name the family out of consideration for their teenage daughter.

The mother declined comment.

"I have been advised not to give out any information and I apologize for that," she says. "I would love to sit here and talk to you about it but I can't."

She was informed that without her direct comment the newspaper would rely heavily on the police report she filed with the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department regarding the destroyed foosball table.

"I will tell you that the police report is totally wrong," the mother said. "We have worked on getting that changed. I would just be very careful about what you write."

Lt. Craig McGuire, spokesman for the sheriff's department, said he is unaware of anyone contacting the department to alter the report.

"We stand behind the report as written," McGuire says. "There was no supplement to it. What is in the report is what we believe she told us."

The police report - without using the mother's name - states:

"(She) stated in the months leading up Meier's daughter's suicide, she instigated and monitored a 'my space' account which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier's daughter.

"(She) said she, with the help of temporary employee named ------ constructed a profile of 'good looking' male on 'my space' in order to 'find out what Megan (Meier's daughter) was saying on-line' about her daughter. (She) explained the communication between the fake male profile and Megan was aimed at gaining Megan's confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people.

"(She) stated she, her daughter and (the temporary employee) all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan ?..

"According to (her) 'somehow' other 'my space' users were able to access the fake male profile and Megan found out she had been duped. (She) stated she knew 'arguments' had broken out between Megan and others on 'my space.' (She) felt this incident contributed to Megan's suicide, but she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before.'"

Tina says her daughter died thinking Josh was real and that she never before attempted suicide.

"She was the happiest she had ever been in her life," Ron says.

After years of wearing braces, Megan was scheduled to have them removed the day she died. And she was looking forward to her birthday party.

"She and her mom went shopping and bought a new dress," Ron says. "She wanted to make this grand entrance with me carrying her down the stairs. I never got to see her in that dress until the funeral."


It does not appear that there will be criminal charges filed in connection with Megan's death.

"We did not have a charge to fit it," McGuire says. "I don't know that anybody can sit down and say, 'This is why this young girl took her life.'"

The Meiers say the matter also was investigated by the FBI, which analyzed the family computer and conducted interviews. Ron said a stumbling block is that the FBI was unable to retrieve the electronic messages from Megan's final day, including that final message that only Ron saw.

The Meiers do not plan to file a civil lawsuit. Here's what they want: They want the law changed, state or federal, so that what happened to Megan - at the hands of an adult - is a crime.


The Meiers are divorcing. Ron says Tina was as vigilant as a parent could be in monitoring Megan on MySpace. Yet she blames herself.

"I have this awful, horrible guilt and this I can never change," she said. "Ever."

Ron struggles daily with the loss of a daughter who, no matter how low she felt, tried to make others laugh and feel a little bit better.

He has difficulty maintaining focus and has kept his job as a tool and die maker through the grace and understanding of his employer, he says. His emotions remain jagged, on edge.

Christine Buckles lives in the same Waterford Crossing subdivision. In her view, everyone in the subdivision knows of Megan's death, but few know of the other family's involvement.

Tina says she and Ron have dissuaded angry friends and family members from vandalizing the other home for one, and only one, reason.

"The police will think we did it," Tina says.

Ron faces a misdemeanor charge of property damage. He is accused of driving his truck across the lawn of the family down the street, doing $1,000 in damage, in March. A security camera the neighbors installed on their home allegedly caught him.

It was Tina, a real estate agent, who helped the other family purchase their home on the same block 2˝ years ago.

"I just wish they would go away, move," Ron says.

Vicki Dunn, Tina's aunt, last month placed signs in and near the neighborhood on the anniversary of Megan's death.

They read: "Justice for Megan Meier," "Call the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney," and "MySpace Impersonator in Your Neighborhood."

On the window outside Megan's room is an ornamental angel that Ron turns on almost every night. Inside are pictures of boys, posters of Usher, Beyonce and on the dresser a tube of instant bronzer.

"She was all about getting a tan," Ron says.

He has placed the doors back on the closet. Megan had them off.

If only she had waited, talked to someone, or just made it to dinner, then through the evening, and then on to the beginning of a new day in what could have been a remarkable life.

If she had, he says, there is no doubt she would have chosen to live. Instead, there is so much pain.

"She never would have wanted to see her parents divorce," Ron says.

Ultimately, it was Megan's choice to do what she did, he says. "But it was like someone handed her a loaded gun."



Listening vs. Obeying listen2

Backup of Fox News Article


DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. —  Megan Meier thought she had made a new friend in cyberspace when a cute teenage boy named Josh contacted her on MySpace and began exchanging messages with her. Megan, a 13-year-old who suffered from depression and attention deficit disorder, corresponded with Josh for more than a month before he abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he had heard she was cruel.

The next day Megan committed suicide. Her family learned later that Josh never actually existed; he was created by members of a neighborhood family that included a former friend of Megan's.

Now Megan's parents hope the people who made the fraudulent profile on the social networking Web site will be prosecuted, and they are seeking legal changes to safeguard children on the Internet.

The girl's mother, Tina Meier, said she doesn't think anyone involved intended for her daughter to kill herself.

"But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year- old, with or without mental problems, it is absolutely vile," she told the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, which first reported on the case.

Tina Meier said law enforcement officials told her the case did not fit into any law. But sheriff's officials have not closed the case and pledged to consider new evidence if it emerges.

Megan Meier hanged herself in her bedroom on Oct. 16, 2006, and died the next day. She was described as a "bubbly, goofy" girl who loved hanging out with her friends, watching movies and fishing with her dad.

Megan had been on medication, but had been upbeat before her death, her mother said, after striking up a relationship on MySpace with Josh Evans about six weeks before her death.

Josh told her he was born in Florida and had recently moved to the nearby community of O'Fallon. He said he was homeschooled, and didn't yet have a phone number in the area to give her.

Megan's parents said she received a message from him on Oct. 15 of last year, essentially saying he didn't want to be her friend anymore, that he had heard she wasn't nice to her friends.

The next day, as Megan's mother headed out the door to take another daughter to the orthodontist, she knew Megan was upset about Internet messages. She asked Megan to log off. Users on MySpace must be at least 14, though Megan was not when she opened her account. A MySpace spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Someone using Josh's account was sending cruel messages. Then, Megan called her mother, saying electronic bulletins were being posted about her, saying things like, "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat."

Megan's mother, who monitored her daughter's online communications, returned home and said she was shocked at the vulgar language her own daughter was sending. She told her daughter how upset she was about it.

Megan ran upstairs, and her father, Ron, tried to tell her everything would be fine. About 20 minutes later, she was found in her bedroom. She died the next day.

Her father said he found a message the next day from Josh, which he said law enforcement authorities have not been able to retrieve. It told the girl she was a bad person and the world would be better without her, he has said.

Another parent, who learned of the MySpace account from her own daughter who had access to the Josh profile, told Megan's parents about the hoax in a counselor's office about six weeks after Megan died. That's when they learned Josh was imaginary, they said.

The woman who created the fake profile has not been charged with a crime. She allegedly told the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department she created Josh's profile because she wanted to gain Megan's confidence to know what Megan was saying about her own child online.

The mother from down the street told police that she, her daughter and another person all typed and monitored the communication between the fictitious boy and Megan.

A person who answered the door at the family's house told an Associated Press reporter on Friday afternoon that they had been advised not to comment.

Megan's parents had been storing a foosball table for the family that created the MySpace character. Six weeks after Megan's death, they learned the other family had created the profile and responded by destroying the foosball table, dumping it on the neighbors' driveway and encouraging them to move away.

Megan's parents are now separated and plan to divorce.

Aldermen in Dardenne Prairie, a community of about 7,000 residents about 35 miles from St. Louis, have proposed a new ordinance related to child endangerment and Internet harassment. It could come before city leaders on Wednesday.

"Is this enough?" Mayor Pam Fogarty said Friday. "No, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it's something, and you have to start somewhere."

Back up of http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004030463_suicide23.html


DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. — For nearly a year, the families living along Waterford Crystal Drive in this bedroom community northwest of St. Louis kept the secret about the boy Megan Meyer met in September 2006 on the social-networking site MySpace.

He called himself Josh Evans, and he and Meier, 13, struck up an online friendship that lasted for weeks.

The boy then abruptly turned on Meier and ended it. Meier, who previously battled depression, committed suicide that night.

The secret was revealed six weeks later: Neighbor mother Lori Drew had pretended to be 16-year-old "Josh" to gain the trust of Meier, who had been fighting with Drew's daughter, according to police records and Meier's parents.

After their daughter's death, Tina and Ron Meier begged other neighbors to keep the story private. Let the local police and the FBI conduct their investigations in privacy, they pleaded.

But after waiting for criminal charges to be filed against Drew, neighbors learned that local and federal prosecutors could not find a statute applicable to the case.

The community's patience dried up. Furious neighbors — and in the wake of recent media reports, an outraged public — are taking matters into their own hands.

In an outburst of virtual vigilantism, readers of blogs listed the Drews' home address, personal phone numbers, e-mail addresses and photographs of the couple.

Dozens of people allegedly have called local businesses that work with the Drew family's advertising-booklet company and flooded the phone lines this week at a local discount department store where Curt Drew reportedly works.

"I posted that — where Curt works. I'm not ashamed to admit that," said Trever Buckles, 40, a neighbor whose two teenage boys grew up with Meier. "Why? Because there's never been any sense of remorse or public apology from the Drews, no 'maybe we made a mistake.' "

Local teenagers and residents protest just steps from their tiny porch. A fake 911 call, claiming a man had been shot inside the Drew home, sent police to surround the one-story house. People drive through the neighborhood in the middle of the night, screaming, "Murderer!"

The Drews, who have mounted cameras and recording devices on the roof of their house to track neighbors' movements, have declined to comment.

Cyberbullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, where the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offer an outlet for taunts. Yet drawing the line between conduct that is illegal and constitutionally protected free speech can be difficult.

Still, Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy lawyer and executive director of WiredSafety.org, notes one federal statute that might apply in the Meier case: the telecommunications harassment law. The law, amended in 2005, prohibits people from using the Internet anonymously with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person. Terri Dougherty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis, declined to comment on whether prosecutors could apply the statute in the case.

The mounting tension worries community leaders. The St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, which rarely visited the suburb, now patrols regularly. County prosecutors are re-examining the case.

On Wednesday, the city's board of alderman unanimously passed a law that makes cyberharassment a misdemeanor with a maximum 90 days in jail, $500 fine or both for each violation. It's the most stringent punishment available to the city.

"We're all in shock," Mayor Pam Fogarty said. "If I have anything to say about it, we'll never have our hands tied legally like this again."

Online chats

Dardenne Prairie is an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people 35 miles northwest of St. Louis. Over the years, the flat expanse of farmland has been taken over by subdivisions, bistros and strip-mall cafes.

The Meiers moved to the east side of town 13 years ago. The couple was drawn by numerous families and safe streets with names such as Swan Lake Drive and Tri Sports Drive.

"There were kids everywhere, and they've all grown up together," said Tina Meier, 37, who works in real estate. "They ride their bikes together, have barbecues together, go on family vacations together, go to school together."

Megan Meier befriended Lori and Curt Drew's daughter in elementary school, and the two became close, Meier said.

When Megan transferred to a different middle school last fall in an effort to help her deal with her depression and get away from some bullies, the two girls grew apart, her parents said.

Around the same time, Megan started to use the Internet under the supervision of her parents. The eighth-grader browsed through her friends' Web sites and chatted about school.

When a boy, "Josh," messaged her on MySpace and asked to be friends, the girl excitedly agreed. The two talked online for about six weeks, her parents said.

The messages grew nasty in October 2006, according to an FBI transcript. Josh told her he had heard she was a terrible friend and sent a string of disturbing messages and postings that said Megan was "fat" and "a slut."

The final message isn't included in the transcript: "I remember it said something like, 'The world would be a better off place without you,' " said Ron Meier, 37, who works as a machinist.

That evening, as her parents were downstairs preparing for dinner, Megan wrapped a cloth cord around her neck and hanged herself in her closet. She died the next day.

In the weeks that followed, the Drews comforted the Meiers. They said nothing about the fake MySpace account.

They prayed at the wake and consoled sobbing community members at the girl's funeral. They invited the Meiers to birthday parties and had Megan's sister, Allison, over to bake holiday cookies. They asked the Meiers to help hide Christmas gifts in their garage, far from their children's prying eyes.

Last Thanksgiving weekend, the Meiers learned the truth from a neighbor who had figured out that Lori Drew had conducted the online relationship with Megan. In a rage, they hacked up one of the gifts they were storing — a foosball table — with an ax and sledgehammer. They dumped the pieces onto the Drews' driveway.

"I heard this God-awful screaming," said neighbor Kristie Kriss, 48. "It was Tina. When I heard what happened, I couldn't believe it."

Days later, when the Drews complained to police about the loss of their foosball table, the truth became public.

According to a police report, Lori Drew said she "instigated and monitored" a fake account before Megan's suicide "for the sole purpose of communicating" with the girl.

The Meiers hired an attorney.

"We told our friends to trust the system, and we would have our justice," Ron Meier said.

Neighbors couldn't keep their feelings hidden: Many people shunned the Drews, meeting their gaze with sneers and obscene gestures.

On the anniversary of his daughter's death, Ron Meier's relatives lined the street with balloons and put up signs that asked for "justice for Megan."

Meanwhile, the Meiers' marriage fell apart. Tina moved out this spring and lives with her mother. They are getting divorced. Allison, 11, splits her time between the two.

Ron Meier remained in the house on Waterford Crystal Drive and kept his daughter's room exactly as it was before the suicide. Her clothes fill the closet. But he's stopped sleeping at the house.

His attorney suggested that he spend nights with friends or family, because "if something does happen to the Drews, I'm going to be the No. 1 suspect and I'll need a witness to prove my innocence," Ron Meier said.

"All we feel is frustration, anger," neighbor Kriss said. "For months, we've been asking ourselves, 'What mother in her right mind would do this? And why won't the cops do anything to punish them?'

"We just want them gone."

Los Angeles Times researcher DeeDee Correll and the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

LA Times story Jan 9, 2008



A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has begun issuing subpoenas in the case of a Missouri teenager who hanged herself after being rejected by the person she thought was a 16-year-old boy she met on MySpace, sources told The Times.

The case set off a national furor when it was revealed that the "boyfriend" was really a neighbor who was the mother of one of the girl's former friends.

Local and federal authorities in Missouri looked into the circumstances surrounding 13-year-old Megan Meier's 2006 death in the town of Dardenne Prairie, an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people, located northwest of St. Louis.

But after months of investigation, no charges were filed against Lori Drew for her alleged role in the hoax. Prosecutors in Missouri said they were unable to find a statute under which to pursue a criminal case.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, however, are exploring the possibility of charging Drew with defrauding the MySpace social networking website by allegedly creating the false account, according to the sources, who insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

The sources said prosecutors are looking at federal wire fraud and cyber fraud statutes as they consider the case. Prosecutors believe they have jurisdiction because MySpace is headquartered in Beverly Hills, the sources said.

It's still unclear who created the fictitious account. In a police report, Drew told authorities she, with the aid of a temporary employee, "instigated and monitored" a fake profile prior to Megan's suicide, "for the sole purpose of communicating" with the girl and to see what the girl was saying about Drew's daughter.

The grand jury issued several subpoenas last week, including one to MySpace and others to "witnesses in the case," sources said. One source did not know who else had received subpoenas; the other declined to provide that information.

Thomas P. O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for O'Brien, also declined to comment.

MySpace officials could not be reached for comment, nor could Drew or her husband, Curt, be reached.

Attorney Jim Briscoe, who represents Lori Drew, said: "We have no knowledge of . . . anything dealing with a grand jury anywhere dealing with this case. . . . The only comment I have is we can't comment on rumors from anonymous sources."

The news came as a shock to Tina and Ron Meier, Megan's parents. Both said they were unaware of the grand jury and had not been contacted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

"If MySpace is considered the victim, fine. I don't care at this point," said Tina Meier, 37. "We've been begging for someone -- anyone -- to pick up this case. If the Drews can be charged -- and even get the chance to be convicted -- it would be a day I could be happy with."

Cyber-bullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, with the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offering an outlet for cruel taunts.

Former federal prosecutor Brian C. Lysaght said such a prosecution would be "not as much of a reach as it might appear at first glance." In recent years, he said, Congress has passed a series of statutes that make criminal conduct involving the Internet federal offenses.

Still, it could be difficult to draw the line between constitutionally protected free speech and conduct that is illegal.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the idea of using a fraud charge to tackle the unusual case was "an interesting and novel approach."

"But I doubt it's really going to lead to the type of punishment people really want to see, which is this woman being held responsible for this girl's death," she said.

Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, said that if the grand jury brings an indictment, it could raise 1st Amendment issues and questions about how to fairly enforce such a law on the Internet, where pseudo-identities are common.

"This may be a net that catches a lot of people," she said.

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney who specializes in privacy and free speech issues for the legal advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential of this case to set legal precedent criminalizing online speech is worrying.

"The right to speak freely online is hugely important. Whistle-blowers create pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "So do many people who anonymously report on corporate or government bad practices."

In the neighborhood where the Meiers and the Drews live, protecting the 1st Amendment has not been the main concern.

Teenagers and furious neighbors have protested in front of the Drews' one-story, white house. Virtual vigilantes have posted the Drews' home address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and photos on websites such as RottenNeighbor.com.

Tina and Ron Meier, high school sweethearts, have struggled to deal with their daughter's death; the couple is getting divorced. Their youngest daughter, Allison, now 11, splits her time between the two.

The mounting tension and heated emotions worried community leaders enough that they are having the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department regularly patrol the suburban neighborhood. Late last year, Dardenne Prairie's Board of Aldermen passed a law that makes cyber harassment a misdemeanor -- with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine or both for each violation.

A number of area communities have passed similar measures. And Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt pulled together an Internet task force, which put the final touches on a proposal Tuesday that would make it a felony crime for adults who use online technology to harass children.

New Yorker Article



Just past suppertime on a starry night in November, several unfamiliar cars pulled up outside 251 Waterford Crystal Drive, in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, where news vans had been parked for weeks to cover a tragedy that came to be known, in the bluff shorthand of the morning shows, as the MySpace Suicide Hoax. A well-combed man in a blue suit, a correspondent for “Good Morning America,” stood on the front lawn yelling into his BlackBerry. Two ornamental angels loomed from an upstairs window of the house, a two-story Colonial with white siding. Inside, much of the furniture had been removed from the living room, making way for a large picture, propped on an easel, of Megan Meier.

A year earlier, Megan had committed suicide after an exchange of hostile messages with a boy who had befriended her on MySpace. She was thirteen, a volleyball player and a Chihuahua maniac. “M is for Modern, E is for Enthusiastic, G is for Goofy, A is for Alluring, N is for Neglected,” she had written in an acrostic poem that accompanied her MySpace profile. The “MySpace Suicide Hoax” tagline that appeared on the broadcasts and in the chat rooms was, however, a misnomer. Megan’s suicide—for anyone who had not already heard, or been forwarded, the story (often with a stunned “OMG”)—had not been a hoax; rather, it was precipitated by a hoax, involving a boy named Josh Evans. Josh Evans was a fake, a cyber-character created by neighbors of the Meiers.

In the picture, Megan was wearing a rhinestone tiara. Her eyes were rimmed with black eyeliner, her brows plucked into the shape of birds’ wings, her brown hair prettily lifted off her face in layers. She stared directly at the camera, screwing her lips into the half-sulky, half-silly, exactingly lip-glossed pout that—whether designed to suggest vampiness or simply to mask the indignities of orthodontia—is a ubiquitous affectation of American teen-age girldom.

Megan—Megan Babi was her Internet handle—had used a similar photograph to illustrate her MySpace profile. It was just a casual snapshot, but something about it seemed to embody both the sadness and the exhilaration of female adolescence. Megan loved Pink, a loungewear line by Victoria’s Secret, which is popular for the inclusion of a free toy “mini-dog” with many purchases. Like Pink, the photograph represented a tender contradiction: the girl who wants both a stuffed animal and a Miracle Bra. “Oh, god. Poor baby. How could she think she was ugly?” someone wrote on Jezebel, a blog aimed at women in their twenties, reading that Megan hated the way she looked. The pictures reminded one how costly an expression a smile can be for a girl of thirteen. It was safer, Megan’s pose suggested, to strike wary airs than to convey an earnestness that could be exploited by her enemies at school or, worse, on the Internet.

Like many teen-agers, Megan and her peers carried on an online social life that was more mercurial, and perhaps more crucial to their sense of status and acceptance, than the one they inhabited in the flesh. On MySpace, and on other social-networking sites, such as Friendster and Facebook, a person can project a larger, more confident self, a nervy collection of favorite music, books, quotations, pleasures, and complaints. He or she, able to play with different personas, is released from some of the petty humiliations of being a middle-schooler—all it takes to be a Ludacris fan is a couple of keystrokes.

But trying on identities is, in the fluid environment of the Internet, a riskier experiment than raiding Mom’s makeup bag. Squabbles that would take days to percolate in person can within seconds explode into full-blown wars. Disputes can also become painfully public. Sites allow users to rank their “Top Friends,” so that the ever-shifting alliances of a clique are posted, for all to see, in a sort of popularity ledger. Likewise, polling applications enable a person to pose a question—Is Caitlin hot or not?—to his or her network of acquaintances, who can follow the results in real time, via a brightly colored thermometer icon (as can Caitlin).

Teen-age identities mutate so quickly online, and can be masked so easily, that by the morning after Megan was pronounced dead Josh Evans had vanished from MySpace. It wasn’t until a month after her death that a neighbor named Michele Mulford told the Meiers that Curt and Lori Drew, who lived four houses down, had created “Josh” in concert with their thirteen-year-old daughter, a longtime friend of Megan’s. (An eighteen-year-old girl who worked for the Drews was also involved.) The two thirteen-year-olds had recently quarrelled. Mulford’s own daughter, also thirteen, had been given the password to the account, and had sent at least one unkind message to Megan in Josh’s name. Megan had accompanied the Drews on several vacations, and they knew that she was taking medication.

For nearly a year, on the advice of the police, the Meiers had kept quiet about the Drews’ involvement in Megan’s death. After investigators determined that the Drews’ actions, if cruel, had not broken any laws, the Meiers spoke with Steve Pokin, a columnist at the local paper, the Suburban Journals. Pokin revealed the ruse in his column, “Pokin’ Around,” on November 13th of last year. “I know that they did not physically come up to our house and tie a belt around her neck,” Tina Meier told Pokin. “But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a thirteen-year-old—with or without mental problems—it is absolutely vile.” (Pokin did not name the Drews.)



Please Click Here to Watch This Video of Megan's Mother