West Linn

Boy, 17, says cyberbullying led to suicide attempt

Boy, 17, says cyberbullying led to suicide attempt »Play Video
Marcus Bielenberg tried to take his own life after he was a victim of cyberbullying. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Marcus Bielenberg knows he made a mistake.

He knows trying to take his own life was a permanent solution to a short-term problem.

"I would put a status on Facebook and someone who doesn’t really like me very much would comment on it and they would start drama and it would just get worse," said Marcus. "They would start bullying me."

The 17-year-old said the cyberbullying, along with the death of his dog and some bad grades at school, led to his suicide attempt.

He said the cruel comments manifested into a fake Facebook profile that used his name and photos. The person or people behind the fake profile posted mean things about his friends, Marcus said. He tried to convince them that he wasn’t the source of those comments, but his friends wouldn’t believe him.

"It’s acceptable to kids to do this. That they look at it as power," said Marcus’ mother, Lori Bielenberg. "Look at what I can do to somebody else. I can destroy somebody or I can make somebody just with a few postings, and look at how much drama I can create in the school all with the push of a button."

West Linn High School Resource Officer Mike Francis said Oregon’s new cyberbullying law isn’t working.

"It didn’t create any new criminal statutes, didn’t provide guidance to law enforcement or (the) criminal justice community and how we’re going to deal with these issues," Francis said.

The law mandates that school employees report cyberbullying incidents, but it doesn’t address the people writing the mean messages.

"It’s a total square peg in a round hole," said Francis. "It just doesn’t work. The statutes just haven’t caught up with the progression of technology."

The Pew Research Center says cyberbullying affects up to 33 percent of students between the ages of 10 and 18.

Marcus’s mom and dad want other parents to know that it’s not enough to tell your child to toughen up in the face of cyberbullying.

"Marcus came home two days before this happened and for 90 minutes we sat and talked, and he said ‘I can’t take this anymore. I can’t do it,'" said Lori Bielenberg. "We tried to talk to him about that. But we didn’t understand."

KATU is purposely not sharing how Marcus tried to take his own life. The suicide experts we spoke with said that can be harmful.

After eight days in a coma and three surgeries in three days, Marcus says he hopes kids pay attention to what nearly happened to him.

"If (bullying) would just stop, even if I were 40 years old, it would make me happy," Marcus said.

"If kids don’t stop and look at what they’re doing to each other, it’s going to continue," said Lori Bielenberg. "More kids are going to do this and more kids are going to die."