Mother relives the horror of suicide victim’s cyber bullying - calls on teens not to respond to online bullies
Community hopes that 13-year-old Erin Gallagher’s death can be a lasting lesson for others
The mother of Erin Gallagher, the 13-year-old Donegal girl who committed suicide, has spoken out about the online bullying which pushed her daughter over the edge and how she had previously reported it to the police.
Lorraine Gallagher (36) spoke to the Irish Independentabout her final evening with her daughter and the relentless months of harassment which drove her young daughter to suicide last weekend.
Erin, from Ballybofey, was a second-year student at Finn Valley College in Stanolar, County Donegal. She was found dead in her home on Saturday evening.
Her mother said she seemed better in the hours before her suicide.
“We had a takeaway and some sweets [candy] and she seemed fine…The bullying had been really bad, but it seemed like she was getting better.
"It had been going on since the summer but got much worse when she got back to school.
"She was bullied in school, on Facebook and through messages on her phone. I spoke to the school to get their help."
The bullying had gotten worse in October and Lorraine went to the police.
“They said if there was no proof or if she wasn't being physically touched by the bullies, there was nothing they could do," she said.
"Erin couldn't prove who was doing it, but we believed we knew who it was.
"She was beautiful, a lovely, lovely girl who never did anyone any harm in her life."
In reactions to Erin’s death, Spunout.ie, an Irish group with the mission of empowering young people, have issued guidelines on how to deal with cyber bullying.
They explain that cyber bullying is “like physical or verbal bullying, but it uses technology instead.”
Their guidelines recommend that Irish people who are being cyber bullied:
- Don’t reply to the messages
- Save the evidence (as screenshots/email/photo/web post) as proof
- Tell a trusted adult
- Contact a free, confidential support service such as the Samaritans
- Report the bullying to the Gardaí
- Report the bullying to the technology providers such as the mobile phone company, web host or website owner.
On Monday night, Lorraine posted a note on the Facebook page dedicated to her daughter. She wrote, “Thank you everyone for all the support you have given my daughter Erin.
"We can't bring Erin back, but her death can help other kids in her situation and that means she never dies for nothing."
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