| 12.7°C Dublin

Don't point finger at us over suicides of bullied teens, says website boss

THE founder of a controversial website implicated in the suicides of two young Irish girls has insisted: 'Don't blame us for the deaths.'

This week saw Donegal teenager Erin Gallagher (13) laid to rest after taking her own life in her home last weekend, having been consistently targeted by un-named cyberbullies on ask.fm.

Her tragic death came after Ciara Pugsley (15) died by suicide after being bullied on the same site last September by anonymous users.

The website's boss, Latvian-based businessman Mark Terebin, has claimed that the media is "knocking on the wrong door."

He said that people should look closer to home -- and it was society as a whole that created the circumstances behind the young girls' deaths.

He claimed that while the incidents were tragic, their coverage was because media organisations "want scandals, they want sensations and finally they want money.

"Mass media is knocking on the wrong door. It is necessary to go deeper and to find a root of a problem. It's not about the site, the problem is about education, about moral values that were devalued lately," he said.

"Don't blame a tool but try to make changes... start with yourself. Be more polite, more kind, more tolerant of others."

He also blamed TV and newspapers for its coverage of suicides for further deaths. "Suicide is not something to encourage via mass media," he said. "The more you promote suicide, the more it happens."

Mr Terebin added: "Ask.fm is just a tool which helps people to communicate with each other, same as any other social network."

Meanwhile, gardai investigating the death of Erin Gallagher in Stranorlar have formally questioned three teenage girls about bullying allegations.

Interviews

Gardai carried out more interviews with the girls and their families as they probe the circumstances behind her tragic passing.

They met two of the teenagers earlier this week who voluntarily attended a garda station along with their parents. Gardai questioned the children about comments left on websites as well as texts sent to Erin's phone.

"This is a hugely sensitive investigation because it involves children," said one source.

"There is a great deal of tension in Stranolar and Ballybofey after Erin's death and gardai are keen to calm the situation.

"They are also duty bound to investigate all the facts in the case for the coroner.

Pupils at Finn Valley College in Donegal are being offered counselling after the teenager's death.


Privacy