A dad whose daughter committed suicide after being severely bullied has appeared on Loose Women to publicly forgive those who abused her.
Adrian Derbyshire, a father and Paralympian, has bravely spoken out about the pain of losing his daughter after she committed suicide while struggling with bullying.
His 16-year-old daughter Julia attempted suicide and was being treated with a life support machine in hospital before passing away five days later.
Since her death, Adrian has been raising awareness of cyber bullying and has appeared on Loose Women to share his message and what’s more, forgive his daughter’s tormentors.
Speaking to the Loose Women panel he said, ‘Having spoken to thousands of children whilst campaigning after Julia’s death, it became apparent that children lose faith very quickly – in themselves, in the community.
‘I just wanted to shock people so that they would talk about the issues – online bullying, mental health.’
In her final moments, Julia’s father decided to take some pictures of her, which for some people may be quite graphic. Adrian has since released these images to show other youngsters the effects of cyber bullying and warn them against it.
Adrian said that since publishing the photos he has received 10,000 messages.
‘It just shows you how rife bullying is and the issues that bullying creates. It was so hard for me to do – no-one wants to see pictures like that, but I felt it was needed so that children see the effects it can have. These are the ramifications of bullying.’
Julia had been living in America before coming to the UK to live with her dad, which panellist Janet Street-Porter referenced, ‘You tend to find with children and adults who have been bullied that we bury our heads and put on a brave face. Julia was bullied in America, she suffered abuse.’
Adrian revealed that the start of the abuse came after the teenager was talking about her sexuality with a friend, who continued to share this information with a number of people.
‘She was talking about her sexuality which spread where she was. She was living in a very racist state where, unless you’re white and heterosexual, you don’t stand a chance.
‘It started there but they came into her home and there was physical abuse – it was 24 hours a day. That created mental health problems and a coping mechanism for her was self-harming.’
Adrian has long been a campaigner for anti-bullying, and when asked about spotting the signs in his own daughter, he admitted that she had hidden them very well.
‘We hide things very well don’t we, especially children. Being the ambassador for this and speaking to thousands of children, and Julia was a big part of that, we knew that she had issues in America, we knew she suffered with her mental health and was getting counselling, but what we didn’t realise was that it was still affecting her to the level it was. She hid that from everyone – from her friends, as well as me.’
He explained that Julia had managed to find some self confidence after a fresh start in the UK, but unfortunately began to be targeted again.
‘What Julia wanted to do was to contact the people, go back to the websites and the blogs where this had started – no-one wants to be disliked, do they? And with her mental health issues, it just fed everything.
‘When she came over to the UK, we’d made sure it was clear that this was a fresh start for her, a new beginning, a new phone, a new Facebook page etc. But when her confidence started to build she went back to the sites she’d been using before and sort of say, ‘This is who I am, I love myself now’ and wanted to be accepted.’
Adrian continued to explain that through his own work with anti-bullying charities, he has met bullies himself and understands that most feel remorse for their actions.
‘It’s not about the bullies particularly, it was more about the community she was in. I’m not a name-and-shame kind of person, but you can’t end hate by hating others yourselves.
‘I’ve worked with thousands of bullies myself, and they just don’t realise the effects of what one throwaway comment might have on someone. This is why the awareness part of the campaign is the way forward. I haven’t met one bully yet out of tens of thousands who hasn’t felt guilty for their actions. Most of the time they’ve been victims of bullying themselves.’