“In loving memory of Karmah Jayne Hall…”
“Rest well, angel.”
These words flooded the newsfeed of my Facebook newsfeed. It seemed as if, at least momentarily, Facebook had turned into a sanction of an obituary. And strangely enough, that’s how I found out. Shockingly, after reading the ABC News, I have come to realise that her biological family found out the same way as I did.
“Mum, on Facebook I see people writing ‘R.I.P. Karmah’… it can’t be true, can it?” said Kate Dunbar, Karmah’s older sister.
How is it, that a distant schoolmate of Karmah’s who is also 5 years her senior, be notified of her death, hours prior to her own family’s realisation.
“It doesn’t seem real… because I was never personally TOLD about it.” Karmah’s mother claims.
Karmah Jayne Hall, a 14 year old, bright and bubbly girl had committed suicide at home, with the anticipated causation of cyber-bullying. The most detrimental impacts was derived in particular, through the intrusive and insulting message from peers. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there are more than 3000 students per annum, from Year 6 to Year 12 across Australian states facing cyber-bullying. It is horrific to realise that at least 1 in 5 Australian students are bullied, and it is scientifically proven by the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) that those who have been bullied are 9 times more likely to contemplate committing suicide. In a survey from the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS), it found that girls were more likely to bully in covert way and showcase these behaviours as early as Year 3. Karmah had a tough childhood whereby a foster family adopted her at the age of 11 months due to domestic violence within her biological family’s household. However, there were occasional visits from her biological mother. This divergence from her a normal trajectory of childhood will have already caused her significant psychological distress, so the repulsive comments online must have pushed her off edge.
According to a Yale study, suicide is ranked number 3 in relation to the highest causes of deaths in young adults. Suicide takes up to 4,400 of death of teenagers every year. Although cyber-bulling is reported as only 17% of suicide cases, it has been noted to exponentially increase year by year because of the influx of multimedia. What is even shocking for Karmah, is that even AFTER her death, her Facebook page has continued to fill with hate messages. It was ridiculous to the point where her foster father, Chris Lewis, had to step in and write on Karmah’s Facebook:
“Can we please stop bickering and return the focus of the page to where it should be, i.e. on Karmah?? We’re all grieving, but I know she’d be totally humiliated to see what’s been going on in her name.”
Then later wrote…
“Karmah’s parents would like to apologise for the rash of offensive posts that have appeared lately. It’s hard enough missing Karmah as we do without being harassed by people who hardly knew her.”
“Just to be clear … if you can’t respect this page, then I will block you.”
A close friend writes on Karmah’s Facebook to address this issue of cyber-bullying:
“…Lastly, it is unfortunate to see that the potential dangers of social media including bullying, hatred, and insensitivity still continue to cause you and your loved ones much hurt. If only society could acknowledge that self harm will only stop when others learn respect, to listen to their heart, become more compassionate, offer empathy and sincerity and become less opinionated. God bless you always. RIP”
The issue of cyber-bullying must be addressed effectively and efficiently. Not later. Not in the future. But right now. If this doesn’t get resolved immediately or somewhat quickly, the number of suicides will continue soaring and psychological trauma for younger adults will be more impactful. People in this generation are more attached and value Internet content more than ever before. This mental value they place on the Internet, is the ultimate downplay to most tragedies that involve elements online. Although banning social media completely won’t solve the problem, minimising the potential risks of cyber-bullying through compulsory education courses or petitioning for a Government intervention for perhaps greater investment into better filtering content online, may deter the online culprits from arising. Even after death, closing the social media accounts of those who have passed away would be an ideal response to the situation to control the unwelcoming messages from flowing in, and restoring the respect to which the girl deserves. Cyber-bullying after death should never happen.
Rest In Peace, Karmah.