Today Kate and Tick Everett said goodbye to their daughter ‘Dolly’ Amy Jayne Everett who, at 14 years old, tragically took her own life due to years of torment and bullying at the hands of her class ‘mates’. Reading through all of the media and watching the news over the last couple of days has really hit home for me. Over 16 years ago my dad could have been Tick Everett saying goodbye to his then 16 year old daughter after years of bullying at the hands of class mates. At 16 years of age I tried to take my own life on multiple occasions after going into the depths of depression from years of torment and bullying from girls throughout school. It wasn’t until I moved schools in year 12 and made some amazing friends that I realised life isn’t supposed to be held ransom by mean girls. You are allowed to be celebrated and confident in your own skin.
There was nothing wrong with me. From a very young age I was just a loud, confident young girl who loved life, enjoyed all aspects of helping people, focussed hard on achieving my best in everything I did and made friends everywhere I went. To some girls this was seen as threatening, even in primary school. Envy became a sin that was celebrated amongst my peers at the catholic schools I went to and I was continuously put down, alienated, bullied into a corner that I eventually couldn’t climb out of which then saw me become an emaciated young girl with the life sucked out of her. I became a shell of my former self and it took a lot of psychiatric help, family support and self belief to get me to the point of being able to function as a young adult again.
Sixteen years ago was the start of the online evolution which saw the start of emails and MSN messenger used among the young generation. From a bullying perspective things changed from nasty comments written on toilet doors about me, being left out of invite lists to parties and nasty letters in my locker to threatening emails telling me to kill myself from anonymous accounts and people hacking into my msn messenger posing as me and saying nasty things to other people. I can’t even think to imagine the many ways people are able to bully through our many apps, social media platforms, etc these days. It absolutely scares the hell out of me. At least when I was receiving written threatening letters in the mail I had hard evidence and my mum and dad were able to witness my reactions. Now days, adolescents are receiving things parents would never think to check, on whatever app it might be received through, from an anonymous person, who also just so happens to live down the road and go to the same school.
One thing I remember being so important during this time was that my parents knew everything that happened in my life during my bullying years, they annoyed the hell out of me most days asking every little question they could to make sure that they were up to date with everything that was happening, but then again, that was the 90’s and we didn’t have all the distractions of media that we do now. As much as I hated it back then, it was so important for them to know so they were able to keep an eye on all the situations that were playing out in my life so when we needed to get police involved they could be my voice when I couldn’t talk. As a parent you may sound like a nag, and your child may shut you out but persistence and support is what they need, they just don’t know it.
Dolly was taken from this world too soon, her parents have lost a daughter, her sister has lost a best friend and the world has lost an important part of their future.
When will the world realise that bullying is never ok? All we need to do everyday is remind each other to choose kind.
If we all teach our children to #ChooseKind our world will eventually become a better place.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or see a doctor.