herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bullied Leanne's parents bid to help suicide families

A MOTHER and father whose daughter took her own life after a vicious cyber-bullying campaign have vowed to help other families left traumatised by suicide.

Colette and Anthony Wolfe admitted they remain heartbroken seven years after Leanne died.

Their daughter had just turned 18 when she was discovered dead in the bedroom of her family home at Carrigtwohill, Co Cork in March 2007.

Just a few hours earlier, she had gone into the bedroom of her older sister, Triona, and whispered: "I love you."

Diary

The Wolfe family were completely unaware of the bullying Leanne was enduring until they discovered a diary she had hidden in her bedroom.

"I can honestly say that the Leanne we knew was not the Leanne in those diaries - to be quite honest I did not recognise that child," Colette said.

The Leaving Cert student had been bullied by six people, but two had subjected her to particularly vile and hurtful abuse.

Leanne was bullied by messages on her mobile phone but had also suffered verbal and physical abuse, including being repeatedly slapped on one occasion.

"She recorded this in her diaries and we checked her mobile phone and realised she had been threatened on the day she died."

Now the Wolfe family have devoted their lives to helping other families left bereft by the suicide of a loved one.

They founded the support group, You Are Not Alone (YANA), and will now stage a special event on October 23 in Cork.

Dubbed the Concert of Hope, the event will take place in City Hall and is aimed at raising funds for the support group as well as promoting solidarity among bereaved families.

Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly (FG) said the issue of cyber-bullying is now one of the European Parliament's policy priorities.

Mr Kelly backs tough new regulation proposals aimed at controlling abusive online content and tightening the responsibilities of website providers.

The proposals will also enhance co-operation between EU member states given that cyber-bullying is now seen as a cross-border issue.

It is hoped the new regulations can come into force by 2015.

The issue of bullying and, in particular, of cyber-bullying has been highlighted by a number of high-profile tragedies in Ireland starting with that of Leanne.

sister

The deaths of Donegal teen Erin Gallagher (13) and Leitrim girl Ciara Pugsley (15) in 2012 were both linked to bullying on the Latvian-based ask.fm social media site.

Erin's sister, Shannon (15), took her own life two months after her sister's death.

It emerged in 2013 that Erin had named ask.fm in a heartbreaking note left for her mother.

Junior Minister Shane McEntee took his own life December 2012 following a campaign of social media abuse.

hnews@herald.ie

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