I didn’t think the story around Stuart Kelly’s death could get much worse.
I didn’t think things could seem more difficult, more dark, for the Kelly family.
Until I read the news this morning.
News that Stuart Kelly, 19, was bullied by peers and strangers, through social media and in person, because he was seen as somehow responsible for the lock-out laws in Sydney.
He was used as people’s whipping pole because they wanted to go out drinking on a Saturday night, and he wanted to keep the streets safe so more people didn’t die like his brother, Thomas Kelly, when he was just 18.
In an act of senseless violence, Thomas was punched by a stranger as he walked down a street in Kings Cross, Sydney, with his girlfriend in July 2014.
Yesterday, news broke that his little brother Stuart had taken his own life.
Reports Stuart was relentlessly bullied have not been confirmed.
They were uncovered by The Daily Telegraph, after friends of Stuart’s allegedly came forward.
Nothing has been proven, but it’s easy to believe the allegations are true. People use Twitter and Facebook as a machine for venting rage and bitterness all the time. Cowards who feel comfortable tearing someone down while using anonymous names will use any excuse, any opportunity, to blame someone else for the situation they find themselves in.
In March this year, the Kelly family received online threats and abuse as part of a hate campaign over Sydney’s lock-out laws. The same hate campaign that saw the Thomas Kelly’s memorial in Kings Cross torn down and vandalised, and the website for the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation hacked and locked.
Anger is too bland a word. Sickness would be closer to the truth, for the feeling at the pit of my stomach.
Sickness that these cowards could cause such harm through violent, hateful keyboard messages, to someone who had already suffered enough.
Anyone who has sent abusive messages and threats to Stuart and the Kelly family through social media, should be charged with assault.
Because their actions also constitute senseless violence.
The cowardly perpetrators of this emotional violence should receive the same sentence as that of Stuart’s brother’s killer, which he received in 2014.
Just like the punch that killed his brother, Thomas, the taunts of these bullies found their mark.
They hit Stuart in the place he was most vulnerable.
In no way am I downplaying the trauma of the families affected by a one-punch death. I cannot imagine the shock and anger that comes from losing a loved one to such a random, senseless act of violence.
But to me, these words were like a coward's punch too.
A senseless act of emotional abuse that has the potential to hurt beyond repair.
And has, in the case of Stuart Kelly, done just that.
The issue is complex, but the bottom line is a 19-year-old is dead. A young man who lost his brother to a different type of cowardly abuse four years ago, this month.
A young man who, it is reported, was being harassed and bullied by strangers because he wanted to prevent the same senseless death from occurring again.
We will never know what led Stuart to that Mona Vale car park on Sunday night, where he was found dead the next morning.
What we can be sure of, is that the bullies didn't help.
We can be sure of this because we've seen it before.
"I couldn't go home for five days. I couldn't be alone, and I was really scared. I was getting all these messages from people, and that was the most frightening thing — people were just bombarding me, abusing me, and saying I was in the wrong."
These are the words of Olivia Melville, a victim of online abuse through Tinder. Her photograph was shared around the internet and she received messages and threats calling her fat, a slut, and threatening rape.
Then there is the former Northern Territory Senator, Nova Perris, who was trolled constantly by racists on Facebook. She left her seat in parliament at the start of this year.
There's also Jessica Cleland, from Kilmore, Victoria, who took her life when she was 19 after receiving hate messages through social media.
Watch Stuart speaking on The Project about his brother's death. Post continues below video.
Stuart Kelly had been through enough. He and his family had tried their damnedest to ensure Thomas didn't die in vain by starting the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation.
His mother and father, Ralph and Kathy Kelly, had petitioned for tougher king-hit laws following the death of Thomas.
They wanted the streets to be safe for other people's children. They wanted people to learn from their son's death and stop more parents, more siblings, from feeling the pain of the senseless, violent loss they live with every day.
"While nothing can be done to change our son's case, at least we can all make a difference for other families who will find themselves in our position." Ralph Kelly told the ABC in 2013, after the sentencing of the man who killed their eldest son.
"Every family has a right for their sons and daughters to get home safely,"it says on the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation website.
Stuart himself also tried to turn the "senseless act" that killed his brother into a change for the better. When he spoke at the Take Kare Gala Dinner in September,2015, he called upon the Premier of NSW to strengthen laws to protect people when they're out at night.
He was trying to cope, and be strong, in the face of his brother's death. He likely didn't realise this speech would also make him a target.
To close this speech, Stuart read a poem called The Guy in the Glass, which his father had read at Thomas' funeral years before.
Go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
The same words could be read now, to those who were behind the bullying and abuse of Stuart and the Kelly family.
Because the people who continued to hit, pummel even, Stuart and his family with messages of hate, deserve to be sentenced.
Unfortunately, these people will never see the inside or a courtroom or a police cell. We'll probably never know their names or recognise their faces.
They are cowardly keyboard warriors who cause real pain and real suffering to real people.
Their acts are senseless and emotionally violent.
We need to stop ALL forms of senseless acts of violence so that families, like the Kelly's, can experience the most fundamental of wishes: To simply watch their children grow up.