Adelaide teenager Libby Bell was a champion junior surf lifesaver, an outgoing year eight student and a loving daughter with an “infectious smile”.
Last Monday, the 13-year-old Seaford Secondary School student ended her life. She did it after months of relentless bullying and physical abuse from other teens.
The suicide has shattered the community of Moana, SA, and Libby’s heartbroken family, including her parents, Crystal and Mark. One week after losing her little girl, Crystal shared an emotional letter to her daughter on Facebook.
The powerful message from a mother shattered to her core is a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating consequences of bullying.
“I have tried so many times to find words but I’m lost & empty… you Libby Bell have been an absolute joy & pleasure to raise these short ALMOST 14Yrs of your beautiful life,” Crystal writes.
“It’s beyond comprehension that you thought this could be a solution to end your pain… I would have backed you the whole way and given my life for you to be at peace with yours…
“Those that bully & so called friends that didn’t speak up. . they failed you gorgeous girl and we won’t stop fighting for you until they are held accountable.”
“We plead for you kids to talk and walk tall”
Like many teens, Libby was a victim of bullying and physical abuse, not only online but at school as well. Like many teens, Libby did not get the help she needed to face this battle. The extent or reasons why this beautiful girl was bullied aren’t known but there is video footage of Libby being physically attacked. And it’s other girls who are responsible,
Libby’s family issued a public plea about the dangers of bullying. They want other kids to understand how important it is to speak up, that they can take action to end the bullying.
“We understand schoolyard behaviour and what starts off as pointless teasing and ridicule can soon escalate,” says Libby’s uncle, Clint Gow-Smith.
“So please, as a parent, hold your babies tight. For the teenagers, we plead for you kids to talk and walk tall.”
What we all need to remember about online bullying
Libby isn’t the first teenager to take her own life. And, tragically, she won’t be the last. As parents, it is so important that we do everything in our power to prevent this from happening.
Talk to your kids, even if they don’t seem to want to listen.
Tell them about your day, even if they don’t ask.
Give them a cuddle and a kiss, even if they roll their eyes.
Get involved in their lives, even if they are embarrassed.
Tell them you love them, even if they don’t say anything back.
Tell them, that you are there for them, even if they don’t seem to care.
We can’t always stop kids from being cruel. We can’t always stop bullying from happening, especially online. But we can remind our kids that it’s okay to talk. We can tell them that they always have someone to turn to. And we can assure them that they are never alone, even if it sometimes feels like they are.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131114 or the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.