Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
A photo of Felicia with notes from her classmates.
The friend, Briana Torres, at 16 a year older and a grade ahead of Felicia, hugged her and walked her to sixth-period English class, the girls’ arms clasped around each other’s shoulders. On the way, Felicia cheered up enough to laugh at a joke, and make a joke of her own.
But there were signs of unraveling. Late Monday night, she had posted a brief Twitter message: “I cant, im done, I give up.” After school Wednesday, Felicia walked to the Staten Island Railway station where many students board trains home. She waited impatiently for the train, and as it approached, she hurled herself backward onto the tracks. A friend grabbed her arm, but she twisted free. She was pronounced dead that evening.
By the time her friends began to congregate in the hospital waiting room, posting messages on Twitter and Facebook in what would become a flurry of online speculation about her death, most had pinpointed a cause: Felicia had been bullied, they said, tormented by football players on Tottenville’s undefeated team. Some said she was teased because she had piercings and lived in foster care. Others said players had spread sexual boasts about her over the weekend, after Tottenville’s 16-8 victory over Port Richmond High School. To many friends, she appeared to weather the swirl of innuendo with her usual confidence.
“She never really reached out for help; she was a really tough person,” Briana said Thursday, wearing a small tribute on her left wrist — an “RIP Felicia” inked in purple. “When I dropped her off at class, I wasn’t really worried about her.”
Felicia had reported the taunts to an administrator, who arranged mediation sessions between Felicia and the boys she said were harassing her. Police are now... [continues]
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