Warning: This article deals with suicide, which may be triggering for some readers.
Her cheeky little grin, her mud-splattered face, her toughness on the rugby field. That’s how Amy “Dolly” Everett’s former Scots PGC College teacher, Damien Cahill, remembers the Northern Territory teen.
But in the wake of the 14-year-old’s heavily reported suicide on January 3, Cahill realised there was more to his “lovely” student.
“Despite being a… tough young lady – it was another aspect of her developing identity that was struggling – emotional security,” he wrote on Facebook.
“And despite the best efforts of many people it was something (interaction on social media) she – and every other person – has to/had to deal with internally, and often deal with in isolation.”
Dolly’s tragic death prompted her parents, Tick and Kate, to launch a nationwide kindness movement driven by the hashtags “stopbullyingnow” and “doitfordolly”.
But Cahill, whose daughter looked up to Dolly, believes it’s not just the bullying students that deserve the blame for her death. He says social media companies shoulder a large share of responsibility.
LISTEN: Bec Sparrow talks to Holly, Mia and Jessie on Mamamia Out Loud about the dangers of cyber bullying and what we can do to stop it.
“In typical fashion, I’m sure the teachers, students and local community will have the finger of blame pointed at them by those with little knowledge of this incident. But it’s this medium – social networking/media – that is the uncensored vehicle allowing cyber bullying to occur,” he wrote.
“It occurs and is so devastating because in the hands of children of this age, neither the ‘poster’ or ‘receiver’ has developed at this stage the social maturity to handle the written word in this medium and, more importantly – it’s next to impossible to effectively monitor by adults.
“I just wish [social media companies would] prioritise sensible usage of their products by children, and focus on preventative methods for their product becoming a carriage vehicle for this sort of hideous activity.”
Dolly’s funeral was held on Friday in the Northern Territory town of Katherine. Hundreds of mourners gathered to farewell the teen and to support her family, who reiterated their plans to launch a trust to raise awareness of bullying, depression, anxiety and youth suicide.
That trust would be called, “Dolly’s Dream”.
“It won’t bring our Dolly back, but it may just prevent the loss of another young life,” Tick Everett told media on Friday.
“Please just talk to your children and anybody else and remember, speak even if your voice shakes. Stop bullying and be kind, and do it for Dolly.”
To donate to Dolly’s Dream click here.
For 24-hour crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For advice and information about bullying, isolation and mental health visit Reachout.com