An upstate New York 15-year-old teen was blackmailed over intimate images he uploaded on social media. It pushed him into a suicidal state, and he passed away on March 30.

Riley K. Basford, a Potsdam High School sophomore, was found dead in his father’s home, his family announced on Monday, April 5.

The cause of his suicide was personal pictures that were manipulated into being shared, and he later became the subject of extortion. 

When police examined the teen’s cellphone, they discovered that Riley had been in contact with a stranger on Facebook, posing as someone else. The pair had allegedly developed a close relationship, and Riley sent his personal images to the Facebook user. 

The user then took advantage of the photos to pressure Riley, demanding a sum of $3,500, or the images would be posted online and seen by people who knew him.  

The threats pushed Riley to breaking point, according to the Watertown Daily Times. He was found dead just hours after receiving the blackmail messages.

His mother, Mrs. Mary C. Rodee, said the panic Riley had to suffer exceeded his limit. She said that “he couldn’t reason out what was happening to him and it was happening so fast. They put him into such a panic that he went out of his mind.”

His family attributed that Riley was “murdered” by the mental manipulation that pushed him to see death as his only option. While his father, Darren Basford, felt the situation was not suicidal in essence, his stepmother Melissa Marion said, “he’s one of many who have fallen into that trap.”

“They continued to bombard him and bombard him, and finally they broke him,” Riley’s father described the user’s tactic that forced Riley to make his devastating decision. 

Riley’s family hopes that spreading his experience will warn other children of the great dangers they might be exposed to social media. They also want the story to raise awareness for other parents, suggesting the importance of thorough surveillance to protect their kids from cyber terrorism. 

“You need to talk to your kids about all social media, know who they’re talking to and have the kids know who they’re talking to,” Mr. Basford stated.

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