THE father of tragic Northern Territory teenager Amy “Dolly” Everett says Australians need to start speaking to their children about bullying and depression.
Tick Everett, with wife Kate and daughter Megan at his side, said the conversation needed to happen before any more young lives were lost.
Dolly died last week after relentless online bullying led her to take her own life just weeks before returning to school.
“We’ve got to start talking about it,” Mr Everett said.
“We’ve got to educate the little kids, we’ve got to educate the teachers. Everybody is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son. Nobody deserves to lose it.”
He said bullying needed to be stopped at an early age, before it got out of control.
“If kids start to get away with it there it seems to follow them through life,” he said.
Mr Everett urged parents to speak with their kids.
“Be honest with your kids. If you can’t connect with them for whatever reason that may be, find someone that can. They’ll always have a mate they’ll always have a little buddy somewhere that knows more than mum and dad.”
Mrs Everett said the outpouring of support since’s Dolly’s death was how social media should be used
The tragedy captured worldwide attention after grieving dad Tick Everett took to Facebook earlier this week to suggest Dolly’s tormentors attend her memorial.
“Please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created,” he wrote on Sunday.
Northern Territory police have commenced an investigation into whether cyber-bullying contributed to the Katherine teenager’s death.
A close friend of the teenager said ahead of the service she had been left asking whether she could have done anything to prevent Dolly’s death.
Taniesha Southeron said she and others had been questioning themselves.
“I think everyone who knew Dolly when they found out what happened would have asked themselves, ‘was there something I could do?’” She told the Seven Network.
“Did I miss something? Did I not see something? Did I say something wrong? Has she taken something I’ve said in the wrong way? It’s very hard to all of us. I know we’ve all asked ourselves those questions.
The NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne had earlier called for an investigation amid concerns around social media bullying on teenagers’ mental health, and said Dolly’s bullies should be treated as if they have committed a crime.
Ms Gwynne, a former NT cop, clarified to The Australian: “I’m not talking about locking kids up, but we need to understand them. They have to be held accountable.”
Mr Everett has said he believed his daughter had no other option than to take her life.
“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. Doll had the strength to do what she thought she had to do to escape the evil in this world,” he wrote on Facebook.
“However, unfortunately, Dolly will never know the great pain and emptiness left behind.
“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 death has attracted tributes from Akubra Hats, whose advertising campaigns the teenager starred in, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“As a parent and as a grandparent, my heart breaks for Dolly and her family,” Mr Turnbull wrote in a post on Akubra’s Facebook page. “From pain and loss we must renew our commitment to say no to bullying … Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can.”
The Everett family has pledged to “facilitate positive change for other young lives” in remembrance of Dolly, by establishing a foundation in her memory to raise funds to address bullying.
The teenager will be farewelled at what is expected to be a packed-out and emotional ceremony at the Casuarina Street Primary School in Katherine East at 11am on Friday.
Attendees have been asked to wear blue — Dolly’s favourite colour.
If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit Lifeline.org.au