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‘She’s pathetic’ – Now Facebook trolls target family of latest Ask.Fm suicide girl

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Hannah Smith (14)

Hannah Smith (14)

Erin Gallagher

Erin Gallagher

Ciara Pugsley (15) from Co Leitrim took her own life in September

Ciara Pugsley (15) from Co Leitrim took her own life in September

Ciara's father
Jonathan Pugsley
at the Herbert
Park hotel in
Ballsbridge,
Dublin last night

Ciara's father Jonathan Pugsley at the Herbert Park hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin last night

/

Hannah Smith (14)

VILE Facebook trolls have targeted the family of the latest young teen whose suicide has been linked with abuse she received on website Ask.Fm.

Hannah Smith (14) was found hanged at her home in Leicestershire over the weekend.

Ciara Pugsley, an Irish girl, took her own life last year after getting abuse on the same site.

Now a tribute a tribute page set up by Hannah Smith’s family on Facebook has now been targeted by trolls calling the girl ‘stupid’ for taking her life.

One poster said: “girl was stupid as s***, cause it was too hard to delete her account or not to answer dumb questions ask.fm aint responsible for this”, while another user labelled the 14-year-old “a dumb **** for taking her own life.”

Another user said :  “they can press delete. maybe their parents should get of their a*** and keep an eye on it, if kids kill themselves (sic) over the internet then they're just pathetic. some kids go through rape and abuse and get on with it. this isn't . tragedy. what about the kids she probably bullied? ... the page owner only wants likes.”

Meanwhile the father of Ciara Pugsley, who took her own life last year after being bullied on the site, spoke of his horror at the death.

Speaking to the Irish Independent earlier today, Jonathan Pugsley said: “It’s just heartbreaking.”

“I know exactly what the Smith family are going through right now.”

“This is a site where people can post anonymously whatever they want and get away with it.”

Mr Pugsley met with an Oireachtas Committee last month in a bid to effect change to our legislation to deal with the area of cyber-bullying.

“I went to Dail Eireann and met politicians there to urge changes to the law but nothing has been done. They keep telling us that the laws are there to deal with bullies, but they don’t have the language of the internet and we need legislation which does, which tells bullies they can’t get away with it.

“I would plead once again to parents to try to find out if their children are using these social media sites and if they are to get them off them immediately. Until politicians do something we need to raise awareness.”

Mr Pugsley attended his daughter’s grave in Dromahair, Co Leitrim, last weekend for cemetery Sunday.

“Things are still very hard for us as a family. We have good days and bad days,” he said.

“We went to Ciara’s grave on Sunday and the priest said a wonderful Mass which was very uplifting and that helps, but Ciara’s anniversary is coming up in September and that’s still ahead of us.”

He said the current controversy over trolls using Twitter had helped highlight the issue of online abuse.

“I commend those people in England who have stood up and spoken out,” he said.

“People will say stuff online that they would never say to your face and that’s the issue facing all of us here in Ireland as well as in the UK.

“My heart goes out to the Smith family. I know what place they are in right now.”

Ask.fm, which was set up in Latvia in 2010, users invite questions from other members.

It has been heavily criticised by anti-bullying charities because it allows the posting of anonymous comments or questions on the pages of children as young as 13.

Some child safety experts have even described it as a "stalker's paradise" and an online petition has been set up demanding action be taken.

Messages found on Hannah's account show how trolls left postings calling her ugly and overweight.

More disturbingly, she was bombarded by messages urging her to kill herself.

In the weeks before her death anonymous users posted messages including, "go die u pathetic emo" and "do us all a favour n kill ur self". Another told her: "U ugly **** go die evry1 wuld be happy."

At one point Hannah tried to respond positively, saying: "Yes I may be ugly, but you obviously have an ugly personality to tell people to 'go die'. Oh and btw I think you may need a dictionary love."

In a statement, Ask.fm said: "We are committed to ensuring that Ask.fm remains a safe, fun environment, and we have policies in place that empower our users to protect themselves and to invite our intervention when required."

Last month in Ireland, an Oireachtas Committee found there was no need to draft specific legislation to deal with cyber bullying.

A report carried out by the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications found that cyber bullying and suicide are not necessarily linked and should be treated separately.

It also found that legislation is already in place to deal with cyber bullying, despite a recommendation from Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, that it should be made a criminal offence.

The committee held a number of hearings in response to the deaths of Ciara Pugsley and Erin Gallagher .

The Oireachtas report found that social media sites are having a negative effect on the mental health services for young people. The recommendations include new guidelines to schools for dealing with cyber bullying and the tightening of control of pay-as-you go sim cards and mobile phones.

*The Samaritans can be contacted on Freephone 1850 60 90 90 or you can email jo@samaritans.org

Online Editors