** Content warning: This article deals with the topic of suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide:
- Call the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or
- Text 4HOPE to 741741 to speak to a crisis counselor
STREETSBORO, Ohio (WJW) – Streetsboro police are speaking out one day after announcing the suicide death of 17-year-old James Woods.
His family hopes, by telling his story, they can save another family from tragedy.
“I’d imagine that they’re struggling, but the family has been a rock through this whole thing,” said Chief Patricia Wain.
Chief Wain says Woods fell victim to a growing epidemic called sextortion.
“Typically, someone will pose as a same age peer of the intended victim and engage in contact, try to befriend the person. Then they switch to a sexual conversation,” Chief Wain said.
It then leads to exchanging explicit photos or video.
“Once the intended victim has sent the video, the bad guy, so to speak, will then take those videos and threaten to send them to the victims’ family and friends,” Chief Wain said.
The chief said after Woods sent the sextortionist $100, they demanded even more cash.
Streetsboro police are currently working with the FBI and trying to track down a suspect who they believe may be located overseas. The investigation already reveals at least a second victim at Streetsboro High School.
Chief Wain says Woods’ parents wanted to share their story with hopes of children being able to talk openly with their parents or guardians when they’re in crisis.
Jean Guinto, whose three children grew up in the district, says while it’s a sensitive topic, kids all ages should be aware of the online dangers.
“I think parents need to be overseeing exactly what those younger kids are doing because they’re not emotionally equipped to understand and comprehend how important that is and how dangerous that is,” Guinto said.
Chief Wain says their social media post detailing Woods’ cause of death has already been seen and share more than half a million times.
“This is one of their friends, this is a high-school senior. He was a great kid, he was an athlete and this happened to him. It can happen to anybody,” she said.
The Streetsboro School District and city police department plan to collaborate on new education for district parents and students “about not only sextortion, but other mental health topics pertinent to raising a child in today’s world.”
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