Wednesday 21 March 2018

Samaritans urging redhead victims of bullying to seek help

Teenager Helena Farrell took her own life
Teenager Helena Farrell took her own life
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

ONE of the country's main counselling groups has urged anyone feeling bullied about their hair colour or any aspect of their appearance to contact them.

The call comes in the wake of the case of 15-year-old Irish girl Helena Farrell whose father Enda claims took her own life as a result of bullying over her red hair.

Guy Roberts, a spokesperson for the Samaritans, said he has never come across any similar cases of bullying relating to hair colour. But he warned that many people delay ringing helplines because they fear their concerns are trivial.


"People often ring up saying perhaps they are wasting our time. They feel the issue may be too trivial, but if you are struggling to cope with something we want to hear about it, whatever it may be," he said.

He urged anyone who was being affected by any negative comments relating to their appearance or otherwise to contact a support group.

"I haven't come across a case like this but it's not so much the topic itself, it's how people feel about it. We're not interested in what other people think, if it's a concern to you we are here to listen," he added.

Helena Farrell took her own life in January. She was discovered just a mile from the family home in Kendall, Cumbria in the UK. The 15-year-old had been born in Galway and the family moved to the UK in 2001 when she was just a toddler.

Her father Enda Farrell, originally from Wexford, is calling for such discrimination on the basis of hair colour to be considered a hate crime.

Meanwhile, Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte has announced the formation of an advisory group to look at internet governance.

It will deal with bullying and harassment online and issues around age-appropriate viewing of content.

The Internet Content Governance Advisory Group will consist of experts in the fields of child safety and online behaviour along with technical and industry experts.

The group will take submissions from the public and interested groups and will present a report to the minister by the end of May 2014.

"Fundamental to their work is the question of striking an appropriate balance in policy terms that ensures the protection of children and young people but does not limit their opportunities and rights online," Mr Rabbitte said yesterday.

The advisory group, will be chaired by Dr Brian O'Neill of the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Irish Independent

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