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Thursday, 10th September 2020

Calls for new law on Cyber bullying at Suicide Prevention Day rally in Drogheda

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Jackie Fox (front left) is joined by Mayor of Drogheda Kevin Callan, Councillor Declan Power and representatives of the counselling organisation Let’s Talk: Lynette McEnaney, Maddir Morgan and Anita McCann.

“How many more ropes do we have to cut from our loved ones throats? How many more stomachs have to be pumped, how many more people have to take that final step off the bridge and plunge to their death because they couldn’t take it anymore due to online bullying? This has to stop NOW.”

Those poignant words were spoken by Dublin mother Jackie Fox earlier today at a rally outside St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda  to mark International Suicide Prevention Day and to demand new laws in this country against cyber bullying. 

Ms Fox went on to describe the two years of torment, physical and online bullying that her beautiful daughter Nicole endured before she could take no more and took her own life to make it stop.

She spoke about how, as an 18 year old, Nicole, whose pet name was Coco, would throw up in the bathroom with anxiety before a night out because she knew she would have to face her tormentors.

“She’d have a massive smile on her face and say to me: “I’m not going to let these people get the better of me” Jackie said.

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The abuse went on for a long time until, in 2015 Nicole took an overdose. She survived but the once happy go lucky teenager would cry every night before going to bed.

“I can’t take this anymore and the only reason I can’t kill myself is because I don’t want to leave you heartbroken” she once told her mother.

The bullying continued on line and every single day her anonymous tormentors would send messages such as “go die”, “go hang yourself”, “everyone hates you”, and “nobody wants you here anymore.”

Jackie went on to explain how, on the 18th of January 2018, she returned to her home having been out for just an hour to find her darling Nicole hanging from the banisters in her front hall. 

“I screamed from the pit of my stomach”, she said and described how she got her son to help her get Nicole down and carrying out CPR while she was on speaker phone to the ambulance service.

“She was still alive, still warm and I really thought she was going to make it, I was only gone an hour” she said.

But on the way to the hospital Nicole took a massive heart attack and actually died for a few minutes but they brought her back. She was put on a ventilator at Tallaght Hospital.

Jackie Fox speaking at this afternoon's Suicide Prevention rally outside St. Peter's Church.

 Jackie said “we were very lucky to have two days in the hospital with her. Even though I was told that she was going to die I still had it in my head that she would be coming home.”

It wasn’t to be however and on the 20th of January, at 5.25 in the morning, just before Nicole passed away, Jackie whispered to her daughter: “just let go, no one will ever hurt you again. I love you Coco Pops.” She was just 21 years old.

Jackie has been campaigning ever since to get the law changed to make online bullying and harassment a criminal offence.

Introducing Jackie today outside St. Peter’s Fr. Barry Matthews underlined the importance of speaking to those that we love about seeking help when one feels lonely, isolated or in despair.

“The loss of a mother or father, son or daughter, brother or sister leaves a void that cannot be filled, the suffering continues and the cross remains heavy, we are reminded that life is fragile and at any moment we can be drawn into the darkness of despair” he said.

Councillor Declan Power who organised the event said that the suicide rates in this country are alarming with 1,156 people taking their own lives over the last three years.

“We are here to say that these numbers are not acceptable and that enough is enough. We are calling on the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to address the underfunding of the mental health services in this country by creating a task force on suicide prevention to come up with an action plan to improve the nation’s understanding and attitudes towards suicidal behaviour, mental health.

“Cyber bullying is not a crime in this country and it is now time for the government to bring in  Coco’s Law and  make it a criminal offence and make it law as soon as possible.”

Mayor of Drogheda Kevin Callan lights a candle in remembrance at this afternoon's ceremony.

 In her address Jackie Fox said that when the guards told her that it is not a criminal offence to annihilate someone on line she just couldn’t believe it

“Who has the right to tear strips off someone, to drag them down so low to take away every bit of their confidence to the stage that they feel they cannot live another day? she asked. What gives anyone the right to do that?

“What gives them the right is that there is no law to tell them that they can’t. There was nothing there to protect my daughter and there is still nothing to protect anyone else that feels that they can’t carry on due the online harassment.

She is spearheading a campaign to have a law introduced in the Dáil to outlaw online harassment and bullying, hate speech and revenge porn. The campaign had setbacks when the government changed and then the Coronavirus but now things are “looking really good.”

In closing she asked everyone to log on to the campaign’s Facebook page

This article was written by Andy Spearman

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