In Real Life: Salvador’s Story

A week before Salvador Rios was set to start eighth grade, he faced bigoted cyberbullying on Instagram and took his own life.
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Posted at 1:59 AM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 01:59:11-04

Safety for youth on social media has become a growing concern. While social media can give users access to new communities or helpful sources, it can also open avenues to forms of cyberbullying and hate. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ kids and teens. According to a 2023 survey by the Human Rights Campaign, half of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing cyberbullying.

"I think we've seen, especially with platforms like the app formerly known as Twitter, they have become a cesspool of discrimination and hate,” said Brandon Wolf, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. “I think the majority of our work that we have to do is in asking: how are you making sure this platform and safe and inclusive for all people? That young people can still access the community they need.”

The consequences of cyberbullying can be life-shattering, as the Rios family knows too well. A week before Salvador Rios was set to start eighth grade, he faced bigoted cyberbullying on Instagram. Shortly afterward, he took his own life.

“I want his life to be an example that cruelty is not OK,” his sister Aleah pleaded. "I want others to know that what they say does affect others, not just the person involved, but their family.”

In this episode of In Real Life, correspondent Cody LaGrow sheds light on Salvador’s story, the political fight to protect kids online and how his tragic death is one of many such stories across the nation.

If you need to talk to someone, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.