The suicide of a 14-year-old girl who was once the face of iconic Australian outback hat maker Akubra has left the nation shocked. Her grieving family has launch a campaign to raise awareness of cyberbullying.
Amy “Dolly” Everett, who at 8 years old was an Akubra model, took her own life last week. Her family said her death came after she was victimized by cyberbullies.
A national anti-bullying campaign has been launched in the wake of Dolly’s death, and thousands have paid tribute on social media under the hashtags #doitfordolly.
Her parents, Tick and Kate Everett, thanked the community for its response to their grief and asked for time to celebrate her life.
“This is all we are capable of at the moment and ask for your respect to give us time to grieve,” the family said in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“Our daughter Dolly was the kindest, caring, beautiful soul, and she was always caring for animals, small children, other children at boarding school who were less fortunate than herself.”
In an earlier Facebook post, Tick Everett challenged Dolly’s harassers to come to her memorial service later this week “and witness the complete devastation you have created.”
“If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll’s life will not be wasted,” he said.
Akubra said in a statement on Facebook that the company was shocked. When Dolly was 8, she was in Christmas advertisements for Australia’s unofficial national hat.
“Dolly chose to end her life last week due to bullying. She was not even 15 years old,” the company said. “To think that anyone could feel so overwhelmed and that this was their only option is unfathomable.
“Bullying of any type is unacceptable. It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour.”
According to the National Centre Against Bullying, 1 in 5 Australian children reported being bullied in the past 12 months. The Australian Institute of Family Studies says about 10 percent to 20 percent of children and young people have been cyberbullied.
In response to a post about Dolly, Australia’s internet safety commissioner, Julie Inam-Grant, said her office is committed to fighting online bullying.
“This is a global fight and we need to figure out the best strategies to call out abuse and disrespect when we see it and encourage young people to report and seek help,” she said on Twitter.
“They are not alone - there is a Global alliance of people that want to help support & empower.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.