Teenage girl tragically killed herself after bullies flooded her social media accounts with horrible messages… as her parents call for action against the two boys responsible
As the anniversary of their daughter’s suicide approaches, Michael and Jane Cleland have spoken of their battle to have the two teenage boys, who they say bullied their daughter to death, held accountable for their actions under cyber bullying laws.
Jessica Cleland, from Wallan, Victoria, was 19 when she took her own life on Easter Saturday last year, after receiving Facebook messages from two teenage boys she considered friends saying that they hated her, and that she was a ‘f***ing sook’.
Her parents said that Jessica’s social media accounts were flooded with horrible sentiments the night before she died, and are now desperate to see a change within Victoria’s Government and the state’s police so that those found guilty of cyber bullying face serious consequences.
Jessica Cleland committed suicide last year after being cyber bullied, She was sent horrible messages from two friends who said they hated her. The teenagers were named in the coroners report but weren’t investigated. Her parents want to see cyber bullying legislation be taken seriously
Under Victorian legislation cyber bullying can result in ten years jail
What we would like to see happen is that if someone is cyber bullying somebody and they cause something like this, then they should be held accountable for it,’ said Jessica’s father Michael.
On Easter Saturday last year, Jessica told her her mother that she was going for a run.
Her sister Amy became concerned after seeing an Instagram photo Jessica uploaded with the caption ‘I love this place and I am never going to leave’.
Jessica’s father found her body on the Sunday in the same place where the photo had been taken.
The Cleland’s said that Jessica was a vibrant and and outgoing girl, who was looking forward to her gap year and had never exhibited symptoms of depression or mental illness before the two former friends began bullying her online.
Coroner Jacqui Hawkins said in the report she released in October that Jessica’s death highlighted the impact that social media could have on the lives on young people, and that both Facebook and text messaging was ‘problematic’ for the teenager.
‘Easy access to the internet on her phone meant that she was exposed to potentially upsetting communications 24 hours a day; and she was able to return to, and re-read, the upsetting messages at a later time and therefore appears to have continued to ruminate about them,’ the coroners report said.
‘Although it is not possible to identify, with any degree of certainty, the factors contributing to a person’s decision to take their own life, it is evident that messages received by Jessica online proximate to her death…were precipitating factors,’ reported The ABC.
Following the release of the coroners report, the Cleland’s are now campaigning to see cyber bullying taken more seriously in Victoria and around Australia.
Victoria already has anti-bullying legislation known as Brodie’s Law, which was introduced in 2011 after the death of Brodie Panlock, who committed suicide after being subject to relentless bullying in her workplace.
The crime is punishable by ten years in jail, and applies to cyber bullying as well as physical, verbal and psychological bullying.
Despite these laws, and the finding of the coroner who named the two teenage boys, there has been no charges and no inquest into Jessica’s death, which the Cleland’s labelled as a failure.
Police also failed to produce a warrant to obtain communication between Jessica and her bullies from Facebook and Snapchat.
The Cleland’s said that they were disappointed with the Victorian police for failing to investigate and want to see the teenagers held accountable for their actions.
‘If you accidentally hit someone in your car you can get manslaughter. What’s the difference if you bully someone and cause them to take their own life?’, Jessica’s mother Jane told The Herald-Sun.
‘They keep saying they’re going to have a big push on cyber bullying and try to knock it on the head, but it seems like it’s too much hard work.’
Jessica’s grandmother wrote of the impact of the 19-year-old’s death on the family, and called for harsher enforcement of the anti-bullying legislation.
‘It seems there is a law in Victoria that criminalises cyber bullying, but it doesn’t get enforced because of the police paperwork…Cyber bullying is a silent killer of too many of our young ones,’ she wrote.
‘We have the evidence … but where’s the justice?’
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or depression, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
ARTICLE BY HEATHER MCNAB FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA – PUBLISHED 17 April 2015