Police investigate online self-harm threat posted to student forum in St. Thomas, Ont.

St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in St. Thomas on Tuesday, Sept. 13, after police investigated a security threat. Mike Stubbs / 980 CFPL

St. Thomas, Ont., police are investigating after an anonymous threat of self-harm was posted online due to alleged ongoing bullying behaviour at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School.

According to police, students of the high school ran a confession site where other students could anonymously fill out a questionnaire. Those running the site then would selectively post anonymous confessions on a dedicated Instagram account.

On Monday, one anonymous “confession” re-posted to Instagram threatened that the individual would harm themselves at the school if their bullying continued.

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The post also indicated that their parent was a police officer and that they had access to a gun.

Const. Tanya Calvert stressed that police-issued equipment is not accessible to anyone at any time other than an officer on duty.

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“This investigation is difficult in the fact that the Instagram account to where this post was uploaded was questionable from the get-go,” she said. “This is an anonymous site that is basically fabricated for the purposes of bullying and perpetuated by people who will take over administration roles.

“There could actually be a person in crisis and the cost could be genuine,” Calvert continued. “But we are running the full spectrum of whether it’s completely false to completely genuine information in the post.”

Since the original post, police said screenshots were quickly shared and circulating throughout the day with many people voicing their concerns.

Police were later called in to investigate and officers continue to work with school officials to investigate the threat.

“Our aim has been to ensure the wellness of the individual involved and the school community,” read a statement from St. Thomas police.

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Officers said that there is no immediate danger to public safety or the safety of students attending the school.

Anyone with information regarding the post is asked to contact police at 519-631-1224.

Calvert noted the impact social media can have on youth and encouraged parents to speak to their children to explain that “nothing is ever really anonymous.”

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“They need to start these lessons early about the implications that these kinds of things have on other students at the school and the resources in the community,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, help is available. The following resources are also available to support people in crisis:

  • Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310 (available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who need immediate crisis intervention)
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Embrace Life Council hotline: 1-800-265-3333
  • Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366

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