Brave dad publicly forgives the bullies who drove his daughter to suicide


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Paralympian Adrian Derbyshire opened up earlier this month about his daughter's devastating suicide - today he forgave her tormentors

WARNING: This article contains some images that readers may consider graphic or upsetting

On 8 March, Adrian Derbyshire took the gut-wrenching decision to share photos of his daughter's last moments before her death.

Julia, at only 16-years-old, had attempted suicide, and lay in hospital on a life support machine.

Her dad took the photos as a warning to other children, before making the awful decision to turn off the machine.

Adrian shared photos of his daughter's last moment on Facebook to spread awareness of bullying (Credit: Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire) ©Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire

As an anti-bullying campaigner, Adrian has used his standing to spread awareness of his daughter's tragic story, and to stop it happening to other victims of cyberbullying.

Speaking on Loose Women earlier today, the retired gold medal Paralympian spoke about his campaigns to help young children.

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."

Adrian opened up on Loose Women earlier today (Credit: ITV)

Receiving over 10,000 messages since releasing the photos of Julia two weeks ago, Adrian continued: "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."

Janet then explained that Julia had come to live in the UK with Adrian and that was where the bullying began: "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."

Linda then added that she had been discussing her sexuality with a friend, who had then told the entire school. Adrian said: "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."

Julia attempted suicide at the age of just 16 after being relentlessly bullied online (Credit: Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire) ©Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire

Saira then asked whether he spotted any signs, given his background in campaigning for bullying. He said: "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."

Janet described how Julia's bullies in America had "tracked her down", and Adrian said: "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."

Julian then explained how he hadn't known she was using the internet in the way that she was: "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 was very close to his daughter (Credit: Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire) ©Facebook/ Adrian Derbyshire

Linda then directly asked Julian whether he'd been able to forgive Julia's bullies. He said: "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."

We hope Adrian continues his excellent anti-bullying work.

Have you or a loved one ever had to deal with bullying? We would love to hear from you - either email us or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

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