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Mother of woman (21) who died by suicide leads cyberbullying campaign

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The mother of a 21-year-old-woman who took her own life after being bullied online and offline says it was “the social media that killed her”.

Jackie Fox has campaigned for cyberbullying to be made a criminal offence in the two years since her daughter Nicole, known as “Coco”, died by suicide.

Speaking in Drogheda on Thursday on World Suicide Prevention Day, Ms Fox described what her daughter went through.

Surrounding her, as she spoke to a silent and socially-distancing crowd from the steps of St Peter’s Church, were 500 pairs of shoes – a symbol of lost lives.

Ms Fox described how the bullying of her daughter began at nightclubs but then moved online where she was bombarded with messages like “everybody hates you, nobody wants you here anymore”.

Ms Fox said that even when you come from a happy family and have lots of friends, “when you are told that so many times, it does get into your head, it got into Nicole’s head big time”.

“Nicole was physically abused but it was the social media that actually killed her.”

Ms Fox hit out at the social media channels which were used by bullies “to annihilate people”, and said there was nothing in place to protect her daughter or anyone else online.

She urged the public to support her campaign to have “Coco’s law” passed.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said: “the Minister is currently working on measures to strengthen the criminal law in respect of harassment and harmful communications, both online and offline, to ensure that our laws reflect advances in technology and changes in the way we communicate.”

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to enact the Harassment and Harmful Communications Bill which would amend existing offences dealing with harassment and “proposes the introduction of new offences to deal with sending, distributing or publishing intimate images without consent”.

The department said committee stage amendments were almost ready for Government approval.

Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie or jo@samaritans.org. Pieta House can be reached at freephone 1800 247 247.

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