A 13-year-old girl has tragically killed herself after being removed from a group chat on WhatsApp with her schoolmates. Sofia Sportelli from Monopoli, Italy, took her own life on November 20 when she locked herself in the bathroom while her parents were absent from the family home and hanged herself. Her mother found the girl still clutching her mobile phone in her hands.
Emergency services rushed to the scene and tried everything possible to revive her, but tragically she could not be saved.
The Carabinieri, the national gendarmerie of Italy who primarily carry out domestic and foreign policing duties, have opened an investigation into her death.
They will likely search through the memory of the 13-year-old’s smartphone for clues and to see if she may have been a victim of bullying, according to local media reports.
The Carabinieri will also reportedly analyze the social networks that the girl used and the chats associated with them.
“It was just a joke” were the first words of some friends of the young girl when they were asked to give an account of why the teenager had been excluded from a chat room and had not turned up for her Sunday afternoon appointment at home.
The young girl’s death has sent shockwaves throughout the Apulian municipality, to the point where Mayor Angelo Annese proclaimed a day of mourning for November 22.
He said shortly after his death: “We cannot pretend nothing is happening. I have decided to proclaim a day of mourning for tomorrow.”
The mourning, the mayor explained, was to “manifest in a tangible and solemn manner the grief of the entire city of Monopoli, which associates itself with the family for the tragic loss of the little girl”.
All public events scheduled for November 22 were suspended and flags were flown at half-mast in municipal offices and all public buildings.
Mayor Annese also invited public offices in the municipality, schools, shops and businesses to observe a minute’s silence in conjunction with the start of the funeral ceremony that took place on the same day.
The funeral saw the girl’s white coffin in the middle of the aisle with her father beside it holding the photo of his daughter clutched close to his chest throughout.
Several children held white balloons as they left St Anne’s Church and then let fly free, amid applause and tears. The funeral was also attended by Mayor Annese as well as all the leaders of the police force.
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Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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