Another British teenager has taken her own life after being cruelly tormented by bullies; both online trolls and those in her peer group. Her anguished mother has released a poem written by the 14 year old, Izzy Dix, after she returned from a music festival in the summer, heartbroken at having been snubbed by her friends. The poem, “I Give Up” is a testament to the extreme emotional pain the young girl found herself suffering, to the point where she was no longer able to cope. Izzy’s mother Gabbi, in a brave move, has decided to make the poem public, in the hopes that it may deter other youngsters from behaving in such cruel and unkind ways. Izzy was also targeted through the notorious social media site, Ask.fm, already held responsible for the suicides of other teenagers in Britain and the US. Ask.fm, which has its headquarters in Latvia, has been under pressure to shut down, and a new petition to this end has been started by Izzy’s grieving parents. So far more than 8,000 concerned have added their names to the campaign. The fact that Ask.fm is based in Latvia means it is exempt from British online safety regulations. Police are powerless to trace the perpetrators.
Many parents have been concerned about Ask.fm for many months after it was exposed as a significant contributor in the death of 12 year old Rebecca Ann Sedwick whose mother had moved her into home-schooling and shut down her Facebook page in moves to protect her. Sadly, it was to no avail. Rebecca continued to use, and be abused on, Ask.fm. Eventually, she jumped to her death. The anonymity of the site allows for feedback and comments, a great deal of it extremely negative, spiteful and hurtful, to be posted to account holders. Teens who sign up can find themselves inundated with venomous vilification and they have no idea where it is coming from. It is a phenomenally easy way for bullies and trolls to intimidate the defenseless. Injurious remarks about looks and unpopularity are rife. It is a horrible consequence for vulnerable young people seeking approval to be attacked like this, and for many, it is more than they are able to bear. Hannah Smith, 14, also killed herself in August after months of abuse by trolls on Ask.fm, the fourth British teen whose death is linked to the site. UK Prime Minister has publicly called it a “vile site” and advised a boycott.
Izzy’s poem was read out at her funeral. Mrs Dix said “I know this may be uncomfortable for people to read but this is what was going on in my daughter’s life before she died. In her own words, this is how she was feeling” Lines such as “Another piece of me chiseled away by their cruel remarks and perceptions” are in stark contrast to the beginning of the piece where she wrote “I am eager and keen to have a good time, As I smile from the bubbles of anticipation whizzing around my stomach”. The descent from happy excitement to rejection and despair is agonizing as she finds “They begin to tell me that nobody wants me there, They tell me to leave and that I am not wanted, Not there, not anywhere”. She bravely tries to put up a strong front “Don’t show them that you’re weakened, Weakened by their remarks” but it is no good. She walks away “My vision, spinning, My heart, beginning to break” The title of the poem “I give up” is also its closing line, and tragically, the state that Izzy found herself in when she took her life in September. Mrs Dix hopes that reading Izzy’s words will influence other teens to contemplate the effects of their behaviour on others, and that “nastiness and hate” can be supplanted by motivations of “love and kindness” Mourners were in floods of tears as the poem was recited.
Although Ask.fm have added a “report” button and insist that they have recruited more staff to moderate comments, it is still active. Last month, another schoolgirl, Kieran Gowers, 12, was considering poisoning herself after being told by internet trolls that she should “end the misery of a life that you have” Kieran’s mother is thankful that she was able to discover her daughter’s despair and to uncover the source of it. Other posts read “You’re a slag, There is no point in you being alive” and “If you don’t kill yourself now I will do it for you” . It is tragic that these trolls are still out there tormenting teens to untimely deaths. Hopefully the words of Izzy’s sorrowful poem will strike home and act as a future deterrent to anonymous haters, a legacy that can but offer a very small crumb of comfort to her bereft family.
Written by: Kate Henderson