Amy “Dolly” Everett was a well-known child model in Australia who took her own life on Jan. 3.
She was only 14. Her family claims that her suicide was due to online bullying, though they haven’t shared specifics. Still, since her passing, her family has been vocal about their hopes for an end to social media pressure and bullying, especially among children.
In fact, her father, Tick Everett, posted to Facebook on Jan. 7, inviting anyone who had ever bullied his daughter to come to her funeral in order to help truly understand the devastating impact that bullying can have.
His post read, “This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn’t be. If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll’s life will not be wasted. I know for some suicide is considered [cowardly] but I guarantee those people wouldn’t have half the strength that my precious little angel had, Doll had the strength to do what she thought she had to do to escape the evil in this world. However unfortunately Dolly will never know the great pain and emptiness left behind.”
He continued with a call to action. For those who may have bullied his daughter, he wrote, “If by some chance the people who thought this was a joke and made themselves feel superior by the constant bullying and harassment see this post, please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created.”
He asked everyone else that we work to “stop the bullies no matter where, but especially in our kids, as the old saying goes. You will never know what have untill [sic] it’s gone.”
The day after Dolly’s death, Everett posted this photo of his family:
On Jan. 12, about 300 people attended her funeral, many of them wearing blue, which was Dolly’s favorite color. Since details about the bullying Dolly may have faced remain under wraps, it’s unclear if any of the alleged bullies were in attendance at her service—though we certainly hope Dolly’s father’s words made an impact on anyone who may have been targeting her online or off.
Since Dolly’s death, her family has committed themselves to the anti-bullying movement. They told Australia’s ABC News that they’re working to honor their daughter. To that end, they’ve created a trust called “Dolly’s Dream,” which is intended to raise awareness for suicide prevention, depression and cyberbullying.
One of the images they’re using to spread awareness about Dolly’s Dream is a picture Dolly drew. It shows a dancer, accompanied by the words, “Speak even if your voice shakes.”
“This powerful message tells the dark, scary place our beautiful angel had travelled to,” the family told the Australian news outlet. “We are not concerned with the who or the why of who pushed our daughter to this point, we just want to save another family going through the sadness and tragedy that our family is experiencing.”
Akubra Hats, which had used Amy’s photo in their advertisements years before, also took to Facebook to speak out about the tragedy and to spread the word about the devastating effects of cyberbullying.
“Bullying of any type is unacceptable,” they wrote. “It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour. Dolly could be anyone’s daughter, sister, friend. We need to make sure that anyone in crisis knows there is always someone to talk to. Be a friend, check up on your mates.”
TIME reports that police are investigating the bullying allegations made in regard to Amy’s death, but that no criminal investigation is underway. In the event of an unexpected death, if the coroner deems it necessary, they can recommend criminal charges at the end of their investigation.
If you think your child is being bullied, PBS has some tips for how to handle it.
According to the publication, “If your child communicates suicidal thoughts or ideas, it is essential to get your child evaluated by a licensed mental health practitioner immediately.”
[h/t: Yahoo! Lifestyle]