“I DON’T drink enough water to cry this many tears”.
That two years ago these words were even considered, let alone spoken, by a 14-year-old girl was sad enough.
Hounded to death by cyber bullies.
Local girls who attended the same school.
“All in your head darl lose weight and see what happens.
“The bridge fixed yet, that would be a great spot”
That these words, two days ago, could be published on Facebook by a man, understood to be in his 30s, about a 19-year-old girl he has never met, never seen, transcends the tragic, the pathetic and the outrageous.
His target was a teen brave enough to go public last Monday in a special Riverine Herald feature produced to support Mental Health Week.
To share her struggle and progress so other young people could see they were not alone and there are choices.
But once the stories went online the rabid attack was almost immediate.
You would think, you would certainly have to hope, particularly coming off last week, everyone would be pushing for positive change, more support, much greater inclusion.
Hope we would be in a world where everyone wants to help, not be, the problem.
Well, by and large, you would probably be right.
Except for the occasions where, incredibly, you would be wrong.
Our feature has been backed up with a series of podcasts and some of those stories will be expanded in echucamoama magazine, coming out later this month.
Yet one individual, who will not be named here because in this day of anonymous social media assassins we cannot prove the name he is using is his own, has seen this as an opportunity to launch a vicious and cowardly attack, singling out one of the more vulnerable people we interviewed.
He (or she) has spewed out a series of insane ramblings, ramblings that include blatant provocations urging his victim kill herself.
That he was buried under a deluge of protest and positivity is reassuring.
Our victim was attacked on a public platform, thankfully she has a strong support network around her, and she will be okay.
But that is not always the case.
In such a faceless world there might appear to be no consequences, except the tragic ones such as the poor 14-year old who couldn’t share the extent of her bullying with those she loved, and now she is gone.
According to the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) one in five school children report being cyber bullied – and as technology use continues to rise, so does the issue.
According to NCAB the most important thing you can do is talk to someone, even if you don’t think it will help.
Talk to a friend, a parent, or a trusted teacher, someone who you know will take what you’re saying seriously and help you put it in to perspective.
And keep a record of the incidents.
In this story, the last word, as it should, goes to the victim, who wrote: “As some of you may know, I recently did an article with the Riv sharing my struggles with mental health to help spread awareness and let people know that they aren’t alone.
“This was, and still is, a very hard thing for me to talk about.
“Putting myself in a vulnerable position is something I would never willingly participate in.
“I’ve received so many loving messages and I’m overwhelmed and so thankful for the love but one thing I would never thought I would have received are belittling and hurtful comments, as well as direct messages about having a mental illness.
“Here is a man I do not know, sending private messages to me and my friends.
“I am disgusted that there are people on this earth that think it’s okay to intentionally hurt others online.
“I have so many people that love and support me and I’m stronger now than I ever was.
“There will always be someone trying to put you down when you’re most succeeding in life.
“I hope everyone is having a good day. I also hope that someday this man gets the help he needs.”