EARLY last month many people were saddened to hear about a Northern Territory teenager’s death, with bullying contributing to her taking her life. Dolly Everett was the face of Akubra’s Christmas campaign for years.
Last week the spotlight shone on bullying and cyber-bullying when the state government announced an anti-bullying taskforce and campaign ahead of the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence on March 16. The topic is also on the agenda for the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra this week.
Bullying and suicide are difficult subjects for many of us to discuss because of the stigma involved. Our extensive use of social media has brought bullies into our homes; places regarded as safer in the past.
From a media perspective, suicide is mostly not reported, or if it is, referred to as a “non-suspicious death” or “a police incident”. But at times we can – and should – write about suicide in a responsible way, in a way that can hopefully have an impact on how people think and talk about suicide.
This week, the Times reports on the efforts by Flagstone resident Maddie-Lea Chadwick to raise money for the organisation set up by Dolly’s family. Ms Chadwick too was bullied at school and wants to share the message that there is help for people who are bullied.
As people like Ms Chadwick strive to change our thinking, the Times will continue to look for ways we can support a change in the culture around cyber-bullying, mental illness and suicide.
Statistics suggest that one in four young people has experience a mental health issue in the past 12 months – a higher prevalence than all other age groups.
It is important for us to remember and share resources. Visit esafety.gov.au for information on cyber-bullying. For support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Young people can phone the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. Parents and carers can contact Parentline on 1300 30 1300.