Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin have co authored a book on bullying called “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying.” In the book, the authors describe Cyberbullying as the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.”

People are wired differently; and this is what makes us all unique. There are those who may not easily cope with the effects of cyberbullying. Concurrently, while this type of bullying is a result of the advances in technology-internet, there are people who seek consolation and solace amidst tough times from the same internet. So what happens when someone goes online to pour their heart out and for the most part seek help or advice, but it turns out to be worse that expected?

Brenda Akinyi Maone Waru’s family lives in Tanzania. But for her, Kenya has been home. And it is where she met her death-through suicide.

Bright Student.

Brenda was well known on social media circles, particularly on Facebook. Being at the center of attention on social media, was perhaps nothing unusual for Brenda. After all, anyone who scores straight A’s in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) gets a lot of attention.

That excellent score of straight A’s is exactly what Brenda achieved when she sat for KCSE a Moi Girls. This no easy achievement  earned her a seat at the table in the University of Nairobi’s School of Medicine in 2007. She would later drop out for unknown reasons.

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According to the Nairobian, Brenda committed suicide near the Kabete Police Station on the night of Friday, May 12th. She threw herself on the oncoming traffic on the busy Waiyaki Way.

“It was past midnight and she was with their 3 year old daughter and a househelp. She had taken them out of the house, saying she wanted to take them for an outing, and they trekked along the highway.

Wanted to Kill Son:

Were it not for a miraculous intervention, Brenda would have taken her life as well as that of her son. The Nairobian writes:

“The househelp told relatives that Ms Akinyi (Brenda) almost jumped with the child but was restrained by a motorcyclist. Then in the blink of an eye, she plunged into the road. 3 cars were on the way and the result of the impact as deadly as she had intended. “

While the accident took away the life of Brenda, there could be several reasons the led her to commit the suicide. And one that many of her friends who followed her on social media allude to, was cyberbullying.

The Nairobian spoke to Brenda’s uncle James Okello and he articulated the following:

“A facebook grop called ‘Buyer Beware-Kenya(ORIGINAL), which has over 87,000 members, has this week been in the eye of a storm because she was allegedly bullied online by some members of the group after postng about the defilement of her 3-year old daughter.

There were people in the group who, when they heard that the child had been raped by her (Ms Akinyi’s) friend, they started talking ill, others ridiculing her and all. Rather than console her, they spole badly to her. They frustrated her. “

There is a possibility that Brenda was going through depression. After the rape ordeal, she dutifully reported the matter to police. Well, in a corrupt system, what would you expect?

Brenda’s uncle-Mr. Okello, told the Nairobian that the officer who was assigned the cased asked to sleep with her and she gave in. She was desperate and wanted justice for her daughter. The uncle further noted that his niece secretly recorded the office during the ‘perfomance’ where the officer makes promises  to help her. But after doing the act, the officer, like oxygen in presence of sodium, sublimated into thin air.

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It was out of this desperation, seeing that the institutions put in place to protect ordinary citizens were as rotten, that Brenda sought solace on Facebook. But the place she thought would rally around her and give her comfort, turned to be another irritating animal. For Brenda, she was all alone. The world was against her.

The Sunday Nation interviewed some of Brenda’s friends:

“In the weeks leading to her death, some members of the group had stepped up attacks against Brenda with their line of argument being that she was faking the defilement story.”

Maybe the next time you hide behind the keyboard and bully someone you disagree with, you will think twice. Or even thrice.

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