The family of a young Australian girl – who took her own life after being ‘overwhelmed’ by online bullies – have shared a sketch she made before her death.
14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett – who was once the face of Akubra Hats – created a haunting pencil drawing featuring a young girl and the words ‘speak even if your voice shakes’.
In a statement, Dolly’s devastated family – her father Tick, mother Kate and sister Meg – described her as the ‘kindest, caring, beautiful soul’.
‘Out of all the sadness that the loss of our daughter has brought to our lives, we feel that through losing Dolly we would like to help other families by making an awareness of bullying and harassment that some people are sadly subject to,' they wrote.
'Our vision is to establish a trust called “Dolly’s Dream” through this trust we would hope to raise awareness around bullying, anxiety, depression and youth suicide.'
A funeral service for Dolly will be held on Friday and the family asked for time to ‘celebrate the life of our much-loved daughter’.
Earlier this week, Dolly’s devastated father, Tick, from Katherine in the Northern Territory, described the harassment his daughter had endured as ‘evil’ and invited those who had bullied his daughter to her funeral service.
‘Well were do I start,’ Tick wrote. ‘I would like to thank everybody for their kind and supportive words over the last few days it is truly amazing.
‘I also apologize that there are so many kind words that I have not yet replied to, so instead of wearing out another screen or keyboard I would like to offer my thanks in one big message.
‘This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn't be,’ the devastated dad went on.
‘If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll's life will not be wasted.
‘I know for some suicide is considered cowardly but I guarantee those people wouldn't have half the strength that my precious little angel had, Doll had the strength to do what she thought she had to do to escape the evil in this world.
‘However unfortunately Dolly will never know the great pain and emptiness left behind.
‘In saying this I have a couple of challenges. Firstly if by some chance the people who thought this was a joke and made themselves feel superior by the constant bullying and harassment see this post, please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created.
‘The second is for the strong ones, lets stop the bullies no matter where, but especially in our kids, as the old saying goes. You will never know what have until it's gone. Thank you all again.'
Akubra Hats also paid tribute to the youngster in an emotional Facebook post – accompanied by a beautiful photo of Dolly, taken eight years ago.
‘This is not an easy post to write. We were shocked and distressed to hear of the passing of "Dolly" - the young girl many of you will recognise as the face of our past Christmas adverts,’ the company said.
‘Dolly chose to end her life last week due to bullying. She was not even 15 years old.
‘To think that anyone could feel so overwhelmed and that this was their only option is unfathomable.
‘Bullying of any type is unacceptable. It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour. Dolly could be anyone's daughter, sister, friend.
‘We need to make sure that anyone in crisis knows there is always someone to talk to. Be a friend, check up on your mates.
‘Our hearts go out to her family and friends.’
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story and need someone to talk to, help is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.