Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett was just 14 when she took her own life in the first few days of 2018. After her father Tick’s gut-wrenching Facebook post explaining the circumstances around his daughter’s death, the media immediately created a very simple story:
A young woman was bullied, and as a result, she chose to take her life.
But is suicide ever as simple as that?
If you read one of the hundreds of media reports and Facebook posts about Dolly that appeared after her death, you would certainly think so.
‘As Dolly Everett’s suicide shows, cyberbullying can be deadly’ wrote Bernard Lane for The Australian, making the case that the 14-year-old’s bullies could be criminally culpable for their actions. Katie Bice for The Herald Sun wrote, ‘Kids must hear Dolly’s story’.
But while this perspective dominated the mainstream media, a number of quieter voices were trying to push the discussion in another direction.
Mindframe, the evidence-based initiative which aims to encourage Australian media to responsibly and accurately represent mental illness and suicide, warned against "sensationalising and memorialising Dolly Everett", while Project Leader at Mindframe Marc Bryant wrote on Twitter, "Suicide is complex and not often down to [a] single factor".
"Media covering an immediate suicide death of a young person, it's helpful to: validating [sic] family and community grief, encourage help-seeking behaviour, provide links to broader understanding of issue, Health Prof comment," he wrote.