The family of 12-year-old Carson Cleland is grieving after his suicide, which the Prince George Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have linked to online sextortion. The tragedy has sparked a call for greater awareness of the dangers of online interactions for young people.
Carson Cleland took his life on Oct. 12, following an incident of online sextortion. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Cooper stated, “We are calling for parents and caregivers to be honest with their youth about the dangers of online activity, especially if they are engaging in chats with people they don’t know in real life.”
Rising Cases of Sextortion
Sextortion, the act of extorting money or sexual favors by threatening to reveal evidence of online sexual activity, is on the rise in Prince George, with police receiving 62 reports this year, surpassing the 56 reports in 2022. Victims are advised to immediately cease communication with the perpetrator, deactivate accounts used for communication, and report the incident to the police.
Carson’s parents, Ryan Cleland and Nicola Smith, are advocating for more parental involvement in their children’s online activities. “Be more active with your kids, even if you are active, which we were,” Smith told CKPG News. “Talk to your kids about predators and all the things that’s happening and the safety of online.”
Ryan Cleland reflected on the challenges young people face in dealing with adult problems, emphasizing the importance of communication and vigilance in online interactions.
The investigation to identify the suspect in Carson’s case is ongoing. Police urge anyone with information to come forward and help in their efforts to combat the rising threat of online sextortion.
For anyone in crisis or needing support, resources are available:
- Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1-800-463-2338)
- Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
- Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
Immediate assistance can be sought by calling 911 or visiting the nearest hospital.