Saturday 22 July 2017

'Until then, I'd never experienced fear' - Parents of Leanne (18) describe moment they discovered she had taken her own life

'Imagine waking up and getting this phone call, thinking it was a dream'

Anthony and Colette Wolfe spoke about the devastating loss of their daughter Leanne on last night's Late Late Show
Anthony and Colette Wolfe spoke about the devastating loss of their daughter Leanne on last night's Late Late Show
Leanne Wolfe’s parents Collette and Anthony
One of the diaries in which she recorded bullying
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

The parents of an 18-year-old girl have described the harrowing moment they discovered she had taken her own life.

Anthony and Colette Wolfe spoke about the devastating loss of their daughter Leanne on Friday night's Late Late Show and said they did not notice any "warnings" in the weeks and months before her death.

The teenager endured emotional and physical torture at the hands of a bullies in Cork for at least three years before her death in 2007.

She left behind diaries detailing her suffering.

She had just been accepted onto a course to train for her dream job as a midwife.

The family, from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, have spoken out several times about the consequences of bullying on mental health.

Last night, they described the moment they realised she was gone.

"My son phoned me, he said 'Leanne's gone', just those words," said Anthony.

"It was just after midnight, we were just going to sleep.

"He said, 'Dad, Leanne is gone'.

"I said, 'Gone where?'.

"He couldn't get it out of his mouth. Imagine waking up and getting this phone call, thinking it was a dream.

One of the diaries in which she recorded bullying
One of the diaries in which she recorded bullying

"But that was it, that was the phone call we got."

The couple, who were away at the time, said they immediately thought about getting home to their chioldren.

Colette said, "There was a garda alongside [our son] at this stage. We didn't know that but he said, 'You have to tell them'.

"So he said, 'she's dead Dad'.

"Up until then I never experienced fear. I knew my life was going to change and my family life was going to change.

"I remember I started screaming. We put the phone back together, because Anthony had thrown it.

"I phoned him back and said, 'This is mam, what's going on?'.

"He was crying and he said, 'She's gone mam'," Colette continued.

"There was a lot of confusion going on and I could hear people in the home, I could hear my other daughter crying.

"I was thinking, 'These are my children, we should be at home with them.'"

Colette said she then asked for the phone to be put to Leanne's ear so she could say a few words.

"I didn't even know it was suicide," she continued.

"I said, 'clear everyone out of her room' and asked for the phone to be put to her ear.

"I said, 'Love, we're coming home. We'll always be there'.

"The garda came on the phone, he said, 'Mrs Wolfe, I'm so sorry about your loss'.

"I said thank you. He said, 'Your daughter sent you a beautiful text' and that he'd talk to us when we got home."

Colette described how in the immediate aftermath of Leanne's death, she did not understand that she had taken her own life.

"We didn't get any warnings," she said.

"I didn't think it was suicide."

The couple now speak in secondary schools and raise awareness of bullying in schools.

"Leanne is not the only one, it goes on a lot, it's very sad," Colette said.

"Leanne wrote something when she was 15 and it is very deep. She said, 'we're on this road for a very short journey, be nice to each other, even if you don't agree when you're teenagers, it doesn't have to go to texting or name-calling'.

"People don't know what's going on in the background."

Colette added;

"There is hope, you can come through this. We have, with the grace of God. Don't feel sorry for us, we work with a lot of people like us.

"We have a wonderful life, I will see my daughter one day with the grace of God."

If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (Ireland and UK), email jo@samaritans.org or find your local branch at www.samaritans.org

Childline runs a 24-hour confidential phone service on 1800 666666, or can be contacted by text. Children can text the word: ‘talk,’ ‘bully’ or ‘help’ to 50101. Any child can contact the line for support.

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