“I’ve made a noose Mel and it belongs around your neck, I can’t wait to watch you take your last breath.”
“I’m going to gut you like the pig that you are.”
“Eye for an eye, I’m coming for you and your mum.”
“You are a fat ugly whore, I’m going to show your husband what he really deserves to have.”
I’ve been through the worst trolling imaginable, every day for two years
For me I started to believe it, when I was struggling with depression and people were telling me that I deserved to die. I actually started to believe what these invisible people were saying to me and I let them control my thought process. I’m an adult with resilience. So it shouldn’t be too hard to understand why suicide is the biggest killer of our young people.
One in five children are being cyber-bullied and they don’t have the resilience or understanding of how to deal with it. In fact, new statistics came out this week that shocked the nation… Suicide is at its highest rate in 13 years with someone committing suicide every three hours.
I want you to stop for a second and picture this… that someone said those things to you, or your friend or your child… constantly.
Have you ever had an 11-year-old look you in the eye and tell you they want to die? That they believe they are ugly and that they should in fact kill themselves after being instructed to do so by a gutless person online?
I have and I have to give those kids a voice, we all do. We need to set a better example online and we need to show them the bigger picture, that there is more to life than just school and social media.
This isn’t just about children though, this is anyone with a social media account. Out of thousands of calls made to the Bully Zero Australia Foundation helpline, 80 per cent of those were complaining about online behaviour and these calls were not only from children it was adults and employers trying to stop online bullying. That’s an increase of 40 per cent over 12 months.
I recently spoke to Mel and Dave Graham who lost their 14-year-old daughter to suicide in December last year, their brave little girl needed help and the system let her down.
They went to a lot of people asking for help and majority didn’t know how to handle the situation, this little girl was not only being bullied but she was struggling with mental health issues.
It’s fantastic that we have organisations and institutions to seek help and mental support from, but that doesn’t necessarily make going to school any easier and it certainly doesn’t help with holding individuals responsible for their actions to help stop intentional and inappropriate behaviour.
Why do some people feel the need to bring someone down? What possesses someone to intentionally attempt to ruin someone’s life?
These people don’t know you, they mean nothing to you. The moment I stopped believing and listening to what trolls were writing to me, was the moment I realised the difference between an opinion and abuse and it no longer affects me.
WATCH: Kids who have been bullied have some pretty fantastic ideas on how to end it for good. (Post continues after video.)
Telling someone to kill themselves is not an opinion, it is abuse and it is illegal. It is illegal to use online services to menace, harass or cause offence. Remember this. Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom to abuse.
When you’ve had the absolute worst said to you, you become immune to it. Words of strangers mean nothing to me. This is the first Troll Free Day in Australia and I can only assume it’s because people are scared of standing up and making a difference in fear of being trolled further.
Charlotte Dawson fought hard to try and combat trolling, I deeply admire her for that and I’m thinking of her today as I try and continue her fight.
Today is the National Day of action against Bullying and Violence. If you are suffering from being bullied or trolled, please contact Australia’s 24 hour hotline on 9094 3718 24.
Mel Greig is a radio broadcaster and founder of the ‘Troll Free Day’ initiative. You can find more information here.
Feature Image: Caroline Harris Photography.