Eight years ago, a beautiful little girl from a cattle station in Kimberly posed for Akubra Hats. With glowing skin and an adorable smile, Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, was the picture of Aussie perfection.
Today, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to this same smiling girl, after 14-year-old Dolly took her own life. The reason? Bullying.
Dolly’s tragic death has captured worldwide attention, bringing to light the terrible impact that cyber and face-to-face bullying has on our kids. The suicide rate for 15 to 24-year-olds is at its highest in 10 years. And, often, bullying is to blame.
Dolly is only one of the many teens who resort to suicide because of bullying, before their lives have even really started. And, as Dolly’s family are cruelly aware, she won’t be the last.
Stop Bullying Now
In their heartbreak, the Everett family have started an anti-bullying campaign in Dolly’s name. They want to spread the hashtags, #stopbullyingnow and #doitfordolly, to encourage children to “speak, even if your voice shakes”. Those are the poignant words Dolly wrote on the last drawing she did before taking her life.
“If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll’s life will not be wasted,” Dolly’s dad, Tick Everett writes on his Facebook page.
Let’s stop the bullies no matter where, but especially in our kids. As the old saying goes, you will never know what have until it’s gone.”
PM Pledges Action
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also joined the outpouring of grief. The PM, who has three young grandchildren, says his heart is breaking for Dolly and her family.
“Dolly’s passing highlights the devastating impact that bullying can have on its victims,” he says.
“Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can.”
Dolly laid to rest
Dolly lived in Katherine, NT, but attended boarding school at Scots PGC College in Warwick, Queensland. She was due to return to school in just a few weeks.
Dolly’s funeral was held today (12 January), in her home town. Hundreds of family, friends and supporters gathered to say goodbye to the teen, to celebrate her life and to cherish the time they got to spend with their “beautiful, clever, tough and strong” girl.
The crowd wore blue, Dolly’s favourite colour, as countless other families across Australia shared messages of support online. After family and friends shared poems, reflections and prayers for Dolly, they released balloons and butterflies into the sky.
Another memorial service is to be held in Toowoomba, Queensland. on the weekend. Grieving dad Tick wants Dolly’s tormentors to attend.
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 wrote on Facebook.
‘Words hurt. Don’t let this happen to anyone else’
The family have also made a video montage as part of an anti-bullying campaign and as a way to keep the memory of their beautiful girl alive.
Bullying is something that is happening all around us. Since the death of Dolly, mental health experts have urged parents to talk to their children, to ensure their kids are not doing the bullying, and to let them know that, if they are being bullied, it’s important to speak up.
One mean message online can escalate so quickly. And it can make life unbearable for those on the receiving end.
For Dolly, the bullying became too much.
“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,” Tick writes.
“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.”
The family used the funeral today to reiterate their hope of starting a trust called “Dolly’s Dream” to raise awareness of bullying, depression, anxiety and youth suicide.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
For more information on the impact of cyber bullying, have a read of this mum’s powerful message about bullying after her 13-year-old daughter’s suicide.