A father has shared heartbreaking images of his teenage daughter just moments before her life support system was switched off in a bid to end online bullying.
Adrian Derbyshire found the body of his 16-year-old daughter Julia at their home in Warrington in 2015 after she attempted suicide because she was being bullied online.
The Paralympic fencer gave the schoolgirl CPR and she was rushed to hospital, but Julia died five days later.
To mark what would have been her 18th birthday, the double gold medal winner has released the last photos taken of his daughter in an attempt to raise awareness of teenage suicide and self-harm.
Since his daughter’s death, the 42-year-old has founded an anti-online bullying campaign in her honour, Support Against Self-Harm and Suicide in Youth (SASSY).
“We must continue to end stigma, bullying, hate and support those suffering with mental health because of it,” Derbyshire wrote on Facebook yesterday.
“I cant tell you all how I feel as I’ve gone past the line of devastation and loss, but this devastating story of a beautiful young woman who had given up on herself and life due to others needs to be heard,” he continued.
Moving back to the UK aged 14 after living in the US for ten years, Julia suffered problems with online bullying and self-harm, using a false identity in web groups promoting teen suicide.
“This will be difficult, but I want you all to share this post. Awareness is the only way I know to support others and after reading this they may seek help and support.”
“Releasing these photos was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. I took the photos in the minutes before Julia’s death and buried them on my phone until know because I didn’t want to look at them and I still don’t”, Derbyshire said, the Daily Mail reported.
“But I knew that I was going to need them, obviously to help raise awareness, because I think that the cause is too vital to not use them.”
He added: “Instead of taking her out for champagne to celebrate her 18th birthday, I was placing flowers on her grave.”
The athlete turned campaigner is raising awareness of online bullying and youth mental health using the Twitter account @TheJDCampaign and using the hashtags #SASSY and #InspireBelieveSucceed.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.