The family of 14-year-old Elisha Gault says they will push for better mental health services in Ireland in her memory.
The tragic death of a 14-year-old Irish girl came after sexual abuse and cyberbullying, her mother has revealed.
The body of teenager Elisha Gault was discovered on March 25 in the River Suir near her home in Carrick-in-Suir, Co. Tipperary, where she had last been seen on St. Patrick’s Day. The frantic eight-day search for their daughter came to a heartbreaking conclusion for her family but they have pledged to work to prevent any other family suffering the same tragedy.
Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show on Ireland’s TV3, Elisha’s mother Gráinne revealed that her daughter had first attempted to take her life in 2017 after being cyberbullied and that as a young child she had been sexually abused by a man “in a position of trust.” She has now committed to raising awareness about the lack of support available to her daughter and her family in the aftermath of Elisha’s first suicide attempt in the hope that it will prevent another tragic young loss.
"She’s missed, terribly missed … but Elisha would have wanted us to reach out and try and help others,” her mother said.
“As a family we are devastated by the loss of Elisha but we will now fight to change the course of Victim Support Services,” Gráinne had previously written in a Facebook post on a new page dedicated to her daughter, “CAMHS and campaigning to implement a Self Care Curriculum for Primary and Post primary students to learn better coping skills and develop a better empathy and conflict resolution strategy that we hope will help them through their schooling years but see them through their adult years and hopefully, in turn, reduce the number of suicides in Ireland young and old that we all have to live with today.
“This one is for you baby girl because you were so caring in nature and hated to see anybody hurting and even through your own plight you still tried to be a fun and friendly influence for those around you, who are missing you greatly.”
Earlier in the Facebook post, Elisha’s mother explained the abuse her daughter had faced in the lead-up to her death.
“After a few years of trying to understand why Elisha had been acting out, she finally disclosed that in 2012, she was sexually abused by a person who was known to her and in a position of trust. She was 1 of 5 victims at the hands of the same man,” she wrote.
“May 31st, 2017 - Elisha was subjected to a cyberbullying incident that resulted in her locking herself in our bathroom at home, placing herself in the airing cupboard, consuming paracetamol and bleach in an attempt to end her suffering.
“We presented to St Joseph’s Hospital, Clonmel, who were fantastic and made sure we had our 1st appointment with CAMHS on June 1st, 2017, from this point we were let down as a family.
“After 9 extremely tough months on trying to cope with caring for a child post-suicide attempt and giving her reasons to live and value herself once again, Elisha, aged just 14yo, left our home on 17th March 2018 and was never seen alive again.”
Anyone struggling to cope with suicide can call the Samaritans on their free 24-hour helpline 116 123 in Ireland or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 in the US.