Bullied daughter Julia Derbyshire 'just wanted to be loved'

The father of a teenage girl who tried to hang herself after being bullied online said she “just wanted to be loved and she wanted to be accepted”.

Adrian Derbyshire, who shared photos of his dying daughter Julia in hospital to raise awareness, said abuse began after she spoke about her sexuality.

Instead of celebrating her 18th birthday last week, “I ended up putting roses on her grave”, he said.

He said there should be more education in school about online bullying.

“I wouldn’t want any other parent to go through what I am going through at the moment,” Mr Derbyshire, from Warrington, Cheshire, told the BBC.

He started a campaign to offer “support against self harm and suicide” – referred to as “Sassy” – after Julia’s death.

‘Difficult decision’

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said the bullying started after Julia, then aged 13 and living in the US state of Missouri, spoke to a friend about her sexuality and the friend went on to tell the school.

Julia was abused physically, psychologically and online, he said, and returned to the UK to live with him in the last two years of her life.

He said she developed mental health problems from the bullying and she returned to the websites and the forums where the bullying had taken place.

“She wanted to convince them she was a great person… she just wanted to be loved and she wanted to be accepted.”

Julia died aged 16 in October 2015 – five days after attempting to take her own life.

Coroners recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest into her death.

Mr Derbyshire said he has spoken to more than 200,000 children in the last two years about his experience.

But, he said, he wanted to “up the ante” by posting the photos on what would have been Julia’s 18th birthday and “provide something that would shock them, to make them sit up, to make people talk at the kitchen table and so we can kind of get this awareness out there a little bit more”.

“It was a very difficult decision to take the picture, never mind to release it,” he said.

“It’s been on my phone for the past 16 months just buried in there.”

He said there should be more education in school about online bullying and mental health to “try and protect our children as much as possible because it’s unacceptable what’s going on”.

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