This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
South Carolina Republican state Rep. Brandon Guffey is exposing the dangers of “sextortion” after losing his teenage son to suicide last year.
Gavin Guffey, 17, received a message from someone posing as a girl on Instagram one evening in July 2022, and the pair began chatting on the social media app owned by Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
That person convinced Gavin to turn on “vanish mode” in their Instagram chat, which allows messages to disappear after they are received.
“And he even said that I’m sitting in my room with a gun. If these pictures go out, I’m going to end it right now,” the state lawmaker explained. “I don’t know if any of the pictures were shared.”
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Gavin, who had just graduated from high school that spring and had a passion for art and music, shot himself that evening.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on April 18 signed legislation Guffey introduced last year called “Gavin’s Law,” which aims to combat sextortion in South Carolina by making it a felony offense, and an aggravated felony offense when the victim is a minor.
Gavin Guffey’s loved ones gather at his funeral. “A Guffey tradition is to bury your own,” Brandon Guffey said. (Brandon Guffey)
“With the signing of Gavin’s law, despicable criminals like the ones responsible for the Guffey family’s tragic loss will now know that they will go to jail for a very long time for preying on our state’s innocent young people,” McMaster said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Guffey said his goal with Gavin’s Law was to “send a message.”
The number of reports involving sextortion tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children more than doubled between 2019 and 2021. In 2022, 79% of offenders were seeking money from victims.
The number of reports involving sextortion tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children more than doubled between 2019 and 2021. In 2022, 79% of offenders were seeking money from victims. (Brandon Guffey)
If Gavin had come to his father prior to his suicide, Guffey said he probably would not have gone public with his knowledge about the dangers of sextortion out of respect for his son’s privacy. Since his death, however, Guffey wants to make real change in how these crimes are handled in the South Carolina criminal justice system.
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Second, “call the police and get them involved,” the state representative said.
South Carolina state Rep. Brandon Guffey encourages those who may be the victim of sextortion to contact police. (Brandon Guffey)
“Some people say delete your social media and take screenshots of the images. I don’t believe that because the police can take over the conversation and hopefully track down these people,” who are based all over the country and the world, Guffey said.
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