'My beautiful Nicole (21) took her own life because of cruel bullies' - heartbroken mother
- Mother urges other families to check their children's social media accounts for potential bullying
- Funeral hears advice; 'Do not think that it is your fault. Do not keep it to yourself and just hope the bullying will go away. Don't be afraid to tell'
- Mum says bullying began when Nicole was 18 years old
The mother of a young woman who took her own life due to bullying urged parents to regularly check their children's social media accounts.
Nicole Fox Fenlon (21), from Clondalkin, Dublin, died in Tallaght Hospital on January 18, after efforts by her mother, brother and emergency medics could not revive her.
Now her family have spoken out about the bullying that happened online and in person. They spoke about how those who targeted Nicole even continued to do so after knowing she made a previous attempt on her own life two years ago.
Nicole, who was known affectionately by all her family as Coco, was known as a bright, intelligent, beautiful girl who just wanted to have fun with her friends.
"Nicole trusted people, and maybe that wasn't such a good thing. She would open her heart to people, but that was then used against her," said her grieving mother Jackie.
The trouble started when Nicole was around 18 and started going out to local clubs. Bullies became jealous of her friendships and set up horrific social media pages specifically to "slag" her, according to her mother.
"Nicole showed these to me. They were things like pictures of people having group sex and they would be saying the girl in the picture was her, and there were threats too," she said.
"They would say she was riddled with diseases. They said awful things, awful lies."
Jackie said she went to the gardaí, but because Nicole was over 18 she would have had to make the complaint herself, which she didn't want to do for fear of being called a 'rat' on top of everything else.
Then in May 2016, Nicole took an overdose of tablets. Her family became aware that the bullying had reached a stage where her life was in danger.
"Word got back to the bullies about this, but still it continued. It wasn't only online or through social media, when she went out she would be targeted and picked on," said Jackie.
"Nicole never took drugs or got drunk, she just wanted to go out with her friends and enjoy themselves. She would get nervous before she went out, but she would not stay at home. 'Why should they win?' she would say," Jackie explained.
"If she was out, the bullies would knock over her drinks, burn her with cigarettes and pretend it was accident, or shove her on to the ground on the dancefloor."
Nicole suffered from a physical condition where her joints could become easily dislocated, and any injury from a fall could be more serious as a result.
"The bullying was eating away at her confidence. How could anyone put up with it?" Jackie asked.
"Nicole cried to me. She said 'nobody wants me'. She felt that everyone she was interested in becoming friends with was pulled away from her.
"They threatened online to put Nicole in intensive care. I used to stay up at night when she was out so she could ring me to pick her up and bring her home. She was afraid that if she left a club, she would be attacked."
Jackie said that her daughter sent her one final message before she took her own life. "The last message she sent me was 'I love you' with a heart after it," she said.
The mother-of-three urged parents to talk with their children more about bullying.
"And I definitely think that parents need to know their children's social media passwords and check their messages and history for any bullying," she said.
"I also think gardaí need to do more, and act if they are aware of bullying, not wait for a complaint to be made - because people are often too afraid to make a complaint."
Speaking about the bullies, Jackie's message was clear.
"I hate them. They won't stop. I don't think they realise the damage they cause," she said.
"They don't see the hurt they cause, but it is deep."
Nicole's death was also reported on the Facebook page of the charity Suicide Awareness Ireland, who urged parents to speak to their children about bullying, and to tell a teacher if they know somebody who was bullying or being bullied.
At her funeral on Wednesday, Nicole's heartbroken family and friends gathered in a celebration of her life.
Chief mourners were Jackie, Nicole's father Karl, and brothers Dean and Lee.
Gifts brought forward in the civil celebration to symbolise her life included a box of chicken nuggets, her favourite drinks, CDs of her favourite music and her earphones.
Nicole's uncle Gavin spoke not only of everybody's love for Nicole, but also about bullying and how it had destroyed Nicole's life.
"We know why we're here today, not only to celebrate Coco, but I want everyone to know that you're never alone, no matter what's going on," he said.
"People, and alleged friends, can be cruel, mean, and sarcastic. The reason people pick on others is because they feel threatened by their looks, brains, beauty or all of the above.
"Bullies are low-lifes, they need to gang up often on others because they feel threatened and surround themselves with other low-lifes, followers who are brainless and can only be told what to do and can't make up their own minds.
"Do not think that it is your fault. Nobody deserves to be bullied. Do not bully a person back.
"Do not keep it to yourself and just hope the bullying will go away.
"Do not skip school or avoid school or after-school activities because you are afraid of the bully. Don't be afraid to tell."
After the ceremony at Newlands Cross, Nicole's remains were cremated.
- If you have been affected by this piece, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, Aware on 1800 80 48 48, or Pieta House on 01 601 0000