JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT/Gray News) – With hundreds of online platforms just a click away and easily accessible, victims of peer pressure and online bullying are getting younger and younger.
Its most recent victim was 15-year-old Mena Willis, a teenage girl who took her own life in her high school’s bathroom on Oct. 7.
Mena’s big sister, Leloni Willis, said it came as a big shock.
“At one point, I just stopped and cried and cried. I couldn’t breathe,” she told WLBT.
Mena’s mother, Leslie Shoemake, said her daughter struggled with depression for almost three years. With help from the school, Mena was able to manage it.
Then one day, everything changed when Mena came across a game inside Roblox where users pressured her into completing self-harming challenges, including cutting, hanging, and starving herself.
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system where people can interact with each other as well as program games, and play games created by others.
“In this event that the children refuse to complete the self-harming task, the game on Roblox states that they will then harm the children’s family members,” Shoemake said.
Shoemake said her daughter was always trying to be a protector and often the listening ear for her family, and as a result, kept her troubles to herself.
“She will come and talk to us, though. Like everything’s going to be OK. And you just gotta, you know, encourage us,” Shoemake said.
Leloni Willis said Mena didn’t share the issues she was dealing with.
“At the same time, she was battling with all problems; she was trying to be the little big sister to all of us. The more mature one, the one who understands,” Leloni Willis said.
Shoemake said Mena’s death is stirring change in the Choctaw Tribe and mental health is being spoken about more as she seeks to warn others.
“My little girl is the hero, and I’m very proud of her,” she said.
Shoemake said she hopes she can be part of the solution and plans to create the Mena’s Hope Foundation, which will support those struggling with depression.
Copyright 2022 WLBT via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.