Suicide of Australian teen ad star sparks cyber-bullying campaign
The father of a teenager who starred in adverts for a well-known Australian hat brand and killed herself after being bullied online has vowed her life "will not be wasted" as a campaign against cyber-bullying gains traction.
A memorial for 14-year-old Amy Everett, known as Dolly, who was once the face of the wide-brimmed Akubra hat, is being held Friday following her suicide on January 3 after constant harassment.
Her family launched the #stopbullyingnow campaign, which has rapidly spread on social media, and plan to establish the "Dolly's Dream" trust to raise awareness around bullying, anxiety, depression and youth suicide.
"This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn't be," her father Tick Everett said in an emotional Facebook post.
"If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll's life will not be wasted."
Tick invited his daughter's tormentors to her service to "witness the complete devastation you have created", while advocating that others stand up to cyber-bullying.
"You will never know what (you) have until it's gone," he added.
Amy featured in past Christmas adverts for hat-maker Akubra, whose headwear is synonymous with outback Australia.
The company, whose Australian origins date back to 1874, said it was "shocked and distressed" by her death.
"To think that anyone could feel so overwhelmed and that this was their only option is unfathomable," the company said. "Bullying of any type is unacceptable. It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour."
One in seven Australian children are often subjected to cyber-bullying, according to the National Centre Against Bullying, and youth suicide in the Northern Territory, where Everett was from, is among the highest in Australia.
Everett's family received an outpouring of support online.
"At nearly 60 years of age, I am bewildered by what is happening to our youth," posted Facebook user Mondo Pace. "My niece was subjected to the same issues as Dolly - now 20 years of age, she still carries the scars."
Another Facebook user Gav Morgan posted: "Words cannot describe the sadness I feel for the loss of your beautiful girl. The physical scars of bullying heal but the mental scars last much longer."