Fears over online bullying increase

Amanda Williamson, founder of the R.E.S.T. Foundation
Amanda Williamson, founder of the R.E.S.T. Foundation
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A Blackpool charity which counsels the friends and relatives of suicide victims today claimed children as young as 10 are being bullied online as a result of their loss.

The South Shore-based REST Foundation claims it is increasingly dealing with problems caused by internet ‘trolls’ who taunt bereaved families seeking support.

The charity spoke out after American comedian Robin Williams’ daughter was forced to delete social media accounts after being sent obscene pictures following his apparent suicide last week.

REST Foundation founder Amanda Williamson has warned such abuse could lead to a rise in further suicides from those being bullied.

Today she called for a toughening up of laws around internet trolling, adding: “Something needs to be done, and done drastically.

“They’re just putting more pressure on these people and it’s hard work trying to battle against it.

“People get bullied because people that have never been through something like this have the attitude of ‘get on with life’.

“Until you know someone who’s been through it you don’t understand how they’re feeling. We get a lot of younger people affected by suicide who don’t want to go back to school because of their experiences.”

Mrs Williamson set up the charity after her 24-year-old son Gary took his own life two years ago.

She has lost five other loved ones through suicide.

On Tuesday The Gazette reported on the case of 21-year-old Brett Robertshaw, who timed an online blog revealing his battle with depression to appear days after he took his own life.

Mrs Williamson added: “I’m actually dealing with one 16-year-old at the moment.

“Her best friend committed suicide a couple of months ago and she’s going through a hell of a lot of traumatic stuff.

“A lot of people are getting threats on their life and bullying.”

She added that many victims do not report the issue to the police.