The Story of Erin
by Frank Mechler, Co-Founder of Bullyproof Australia
Before I tell this story, I want to say that, unfortunately, this story is not unique and is happening to school students all over Australia.
I first met Erin when she was just eight years old as I became friends with her father, Chris. Erin was a beautiful young girl with a bright personality, always polite, with amazing energy. Chris was a military man and would often be away on deployment for months on end. Unfortunately, this was just part of his job and there was nothing he could do about it, even though he had expressed to me on several occasions how, after 20 years of service, he truly disliked being away from his family. When Chris was back from his trips, we would always catch up and he quite often had Erin with him. Chris would always make sure to give as much time as he could to his son and daughter when he was back, always trying to make up for lost time.
20/08/2000 – 19/09/2014
Over the years, Chris had expressed to me, on a couple of occasions, that Erin was being bullied at school, and it was really upsetting her. He was not sure how to help her or what to do. As the years went by, even after going to the school and speaking to the principals, deputy principals and guidance officers, the bullying just didn’t stop.
When Erin reached high school, Chris had hoped that she would form new friendships and that she would finally get a reprieve from the bullying she had endured in primary school – but unfortunately, the bullying became even worse. It became more physical, and it was just non-stop from the beginning of the day, right through until late at night, when messages would come through to her phone.
Erin became more and more withdrawn from her family and didn’t really have very many close friends she could talk to. Like most kids who are being bullied, she started to believe what the bullies were saying, and she didn’t know how to make it stop. Erin started blaming herself, as if there was something wrong with her, believing she was the problem.
Erin felt so powerless and there seemed to be no way to make the bullying stop. On the 19th of September 2014, just one month after Erin’s 14th Birthday, Erin tragically ended her own life.
I know personally how devastating this was for her family, as I held Chris in my arms and he sobbed at the loss of his daughter, trying desperately to understand why this had happened, how powerless he felt as her father and not being able to help her – or even understand how she felt and why she took her own life.
As I said in the beginning – this story is not unique. There are school students all over our country that are feeling the same way – not knowing what to do or how to make the bullying stop.
It’s because of this story and the stories of many others just like Erin, that Bullyproof Australia began and why we will not stop until ALL school students are trained with the skill to manage conflict and taught how to get the best outcome for them when they are being bullied.