DO BETTER FOR DOLLY: Action demanded to avoid more tragedy

DOLLY Everett should have been celebrating her 15th birthday this week, but instead of singing to the teenager, the nation is grappling for answers about how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that saw her lost to the world.

Amy "Dolly" Everett took her own life in January and her parents have spoken for the first time about the months leading up to the teenager's death.

They said their funny, adventurous, "crazy-haired" little girl was overwhelmed by torment and troubles at school she'd been unable to solve.

Amy 'Dolly' Everett.
Amy 'Dolly' Everett. The Australian

It opened up a whirlwind of online comment about the best way to support struggling teenagers in a world where the detrimental affects of bullying and mental health challenges have become part of everyday life

Kids Helpline virtual services manager Tony Fitzgerald said bullying continued to be an ongoing problem for young Australians, with the service receiving about 3500 contacts a year as a result of the issue.

"It can impact on people that are already experiencing mental health issues and we see this quite a bit," Mr Fitzgerald said.

He said youth suicide was a complicated issue, as often youth were struggling with multiple background issues at once. "

There are a number of factors to it, attributing a series of events can be dangerous," he said.

Encouraging positive relationships from a young age was one of the best ways to combat bad behaviour, Mr Fitzgerald said.

"The important thing for bullies is to try and help them understand the impact that has on others, particularly with online bullying because there's not a person in front of them, it's easy to not be aware of the impact they're having," he said.

When supporting young people through troubling times, senior clinical advisor at headspace, Nick Duigan, said it was important for the whole community to focus on positive relationships.

For schools, this could mean upskilling teachers in classroom management or teaching parents warning signs.

"Look out for avoiding particular people or places or events, changes in school engagement or getting stressed," he said.

Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie has actively campaigned this year for greater awareness about cyberbullying.

Cr Dobie said it was important for adults to take responsibility for the example they set.

"That's our guide, we have an expectation that young people will follow us," she said.

"If our only example is a negative one then how do you expect children to learn any other behaviour because we're the ones showing them what behaviour is acceptable."

Cr Dobie hoped conversations about bullying and mental health would encourage self-analysis of behaviour.

"We can't change someone else's behaviour, an individual has to look at their behaviour and see it is not acceptable," she said.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131114 or Kids Helpline on 1800551800


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