Jessica Tolhurst had struggled with depression for three years.
But at the beginning of 2015, her family thought she was getting better. Then the bullying started, and Jessica just couldn’t cope.
“We were getting there with her until the beginning of last year and once that stuff happened at school, it was just massive. With social media as well, they can’t escape,” Jessica’s mum, Melinda Graham told The Daily Telegraph.
On December 7 Jessica took her own life. She was just 14-years-old
Her family had approached police over the bullying that Jessica was receiving, including threats from one girl at the NSW school that she would “stomp on Jess’s head if she ever came back to school”.
Ms Graham said the girl also threatened her life.
“(The police) came here and they rang the girl and did nothing else. They didn’t talk to her parents, didn’t press any charges,” she said.
“I believe the schools need to do more. This girl should’ve been suspended or expelled from the school so that Jess felt safe to go back.”
A high-spirited, animal-loving teen, Jessica was just 10 when her battle with depression and an eating disorder began.
“She was just cheeky and gorgeous. Just your everyday gorgeous girl. She wanted to originally be a zookeeper. She just loved animals. She brought home any animals she could,” Ms Graham said.
“She had such a caring nature. She was more worried about everyone else than she was herself.”
Jessica’s family wants to raise awareness around social media and school yard bullying, and say schools and police need to do more to protect victims.
“A lot of things need to change,” Ms Graham said.
Jessica’s siblings have set up a Go Fund Me page to start a foundation that her family is hoping will help other families avoid a similar tragedy.
“After approaching the eating disorder we found that as the control of eating was taken from Jess that the self harm issues sky rocketed. This is a key indicator that their head space is not right,” she said.
“Keep the communication happening and never think it’s not going to happen to you, that’s the biggest thing I can say,” she said.
On Facebook, Ms Graham has been posting notes to her daughter, a window into her grief.
“I just miss all of the things about you. I miss the good morning in the morning, I miss the goodnights, I miss the hugs, I miss the hand under chin smile mum, we call it the Jesse pose now. We all do it,” she wrote on January 3.
“You have had such an impact on this life in your short 14 years and now you are still having a massive impact and you always will. Your beauty and life of love will never fade away. Missing you so much chook.
“Love you so much and tell God he has to give you a big monkey hug from me please. Goodnight sweet dreams, I’ll catch you in the morning sun chook.”
And on New Year’s Eve, Ms Graham said her promise for the coming year was to love like her daughter.
“My chook will be with us the whole way, let’s make a stand and just pick up people, don’t use social media as a way to say any nasty things.
“Making a New Year’s Eve promise is not about how much weight we can loose or how can we stop smoking, or how can we save money, these things are not important, you can’t take them to heaven with you, what you can do is to love one another as you would want to be treated.”
If you or a loved one need to talk to someone, please consider calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.