Trolled to death…

My sweet daugh­ter was hounded for years by cruel on­line trolls

Chat - - Contents - By Jackie Fox, 48, from Dublin

Pop mu­sic blared out from my daugh­ter Ni­cole’s bed­room. Then sud­denly... ‘Mu­u­uum!’ she screeched.

‘Lee, stop an­noy­ing your sis­ter,’ I said, rolling my eyes as he fled Ni­cole’s room gig­gling.

It was Septem­ber 2015. Ni­cole had just turned 18 and was get­ting ready for her first night out.

Lee, then 10, was my youngest, then Dean, 15.

Ni­cole, who we called Coco, had al­ways been a lovely girl. Sweet, clever, feisty. And although her broth­ers an­noyed her, she adored them. It was a happy, lively home. ‘You look beau­ti­ful,’ I beamed when Ni­cole emerged.

She’d curled her hair, put on a pretty dress.

‘Will you take my pic­ture?’ she grinned. .

My girl, all grown up.

Af­ter that, like any 18-year- old, week­end nights out be­came a reg­u­lar thing.

I’d pick her up in the early hours, make sure she got home safe.

Only, a few months later, Ni­cole started com­ing home cov­ered in bruises. ‘What hap­pened?’ I gasped. At first, she’d brush it off, tell me she’d fallen. ‘It’s noth­ing,’ she’d mut­ter. But then she came back with cig­a­rette burns on her arms. ‘What on earth?’ I cried. Ni­cole broke down. ‘I’m be­ing bul­lied,’ she sobbed. It turned out some lo­cal girls were mak­ing her life a mis­ery.

They’d fol­low her on the dance floor, push her over, throw fag butts at her.

‘They’re just jeal­ous, ig­nore them,’ I said, hold­ing her as she cried.

Ni­cole was gor­geous, got lots of at­ten­tion from boys. I con­tacted the po­lice. Yet be­cause Ni­cole was an adult, she’d have to re­port the girls her­self.

‘Then I’d be a grass,’ she said, re­fus­ing.

But when­ever she went out, bul­lies would knock her over, el­bow her in the face, call her names.

When I’d pick her up, she’d be in tears.

I couldn’t bear to see Ni­cole’s bub­bly per­son­al­ity leak­ing away.

Then, the cy­ber­bul­ly­ing started.

All over so­cial me­dia, she was called dis­gust­ing names.

Slag, slut – ev­ery in­sult un­der the sun.

‘It’s not true,’ she sobbed, show­ing me the mes­sages.

My heart sank as I read the abuse. On­line posts told her to kill her­self.

You won’t be missed,

one said.

‘Please go to the po­lice,’ I begged.

Yet she was too scared the girls would re­tal­i­ate.

She bat­tled on, res­o­lutely posted smil­ing self­ies from nights out.

But she’d get so anx­ious, she’d throw up.

‘Just be­cause I’m smil­ing, doesn’t mean I’m happy,’ she con­fided one day. My poor girl was mis­er­able Then, in May 2016, the abuse got too much.

Ni­cole dis­ap­peared, took an over­dose.

Thank­fully, I found her in a field af­ter plead­ing with her over the phone to tell me where she was. Just in time. ‘I’m sorry, Mum,’ she sobbed as she re­cov­ered in hospi­tal.

I just held her, felt so help­less.

It didn’t de­ter the on­line bul­lies.

In­stead of feel­ing guilty, they taunted Ni­cole.

They said she was so pa­thetic she couldn’t even take her own life.


Ni­cole be­came a shell of her for­mer self.

Doc­tors said it was a phase, the girls would get bored. But Ni­cole stopped go­ing out. Over the next two years, she hardly left her room. Yet

All over so­cial me­dia, she was called dis­gust­ing names

the bul­lies still tore her down on­line.

She cried her­self to sleep, cried when she woke up.

‘I can’t do this any more,’ she sobbed.

My heart broke see­ing her so beaten.

I tried to take her on walks or out to the shops.

But she re­fused to leave the house in case she saw her tor­men­tors.

Then, on 18 Jan­uary this year, I came home from the school run to find Ni­cole in the hall­way. She’d hanged her­self. ‘No!’ I screamed. Fran­tic, I tried to get her down. Poor Lee had to help me. Ni­cole’s skin was still warm, but she was barely breath­ing. I still had hope she’d be alive. I called an am­bu­lance, then did CPR un­til they ar­rived.

Ni­cole was rushed to Tal­laght Hospi­tal.

For two days, she clung to life in In­ten­sive Care. But it was too late – my poor girl’s brain had been without oxy­gen for too long.

Fam­ily mem­bers came to say good­bye.

‘I love you, Ni­cole, you’re safe now,’ I said, hold­ing her frag­ile body in the bed.

Then I said good­bye as she passed away af­ter her or­gans shut down.

Af­ter­wards, my head swam with grief and anger. Those bul­lies had killed my girl.

Hun­dreds came to Ni­cole’s fu­neral.

If only she’d known she was so loved, I thought.

Af­ter, po­lice took Ni­cole’s phone.

They saw all the nasty mes­sages, con­cluded Ni­cole was a victim of cy­ber­bul­ly­ing.

But she’d never made an of­fi­cial com­plaint when phys­i­cally at­tacked.

Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing isn’t yet a crim­i­nal of­fence in Ire­land. But it is in the un­fair. It meant, at the time, de­tec­tives’ hands were tied.

Those cruel girls, hid­ing be­hind their lap­tops, pushed Ni­cole over the edge.

Yet they’d never be held ac­count­able.

‘I’m go­ing to change that,’ I told the boys. So I started cam­paign­ing for Coco’s Law, to make cy­ber­bul­ly­ing a crime.

Bring on­line trolls to jus­tice.

I’ve ar­ranged protests and met with MPS.

I still cry ev­ery day. It’s ev­ery mother’s worst night­mare, los­ing a child.

But I’ll fight un­til my last breath to change the law in my girl’s name.

Oth­er­wise, all I’m left with are mem­o­ries.

I’ve ar­ranged protests and met with MPS

Happy mo­ments with my girl

My lit­tle Ni­cole

Be­hind the smile Ni­cole just four months be­fore she died

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