The internet is a hub of social interaction with people you probably haven’t even met.
While social media could be the starting point of a wonderful friendship or budding romance, it’s also a breeding ground for merciless bullies. Cyberbullies are cowardly individuals who hide behind their laptops while making their victims’ lives a living hell.
Some might consider a bit of trolling innocent fun, but online bullying often has serious consequences.
For one woman, internet trolls became too much for her and she took her life on her 23rd birthday.
Leanne Morrison from Cambusbarron, Scotland, reportedly took her own life after she returned home from a night out celebrating her birthday with her friends, her family told Daily Record.
The Daily Mail reports that the mother-of-one was allegedly bullied online, with one user even creating a fake Tinder account in Leanne’s name and contacting men on her behalf.
After her body was found, Leanne’s sister, Natalie, took to Facebook to share a heartrending post in memory of her late sister.
“Sleep tight, beautiful baby sis. I still can’t accept that you’re gone,” she wrote, adding that the family will take good care of Mason, Leanne’s four-year-old son with ex-partner Colin McLaughlin.
“I promise we will love, protect and cherish Mason, promise to make you so proud of him and to always tell him how much you loved him.
“See you again soon, I love you.”
Leanne’s grandmother, Isabel Morrison (63), told the Daily Record that no one suspected the online abuse was so tough that she’d take her own life.
“I spoke to her the night before her birthday when she came to get her cards and she was in good form and looking forward to her night out.
“She told me she had an appointment to see the doctor and I think she’d been suffering from depression after having a few rough times recently – but no one realised how bad it was.
“I’ve been made aware of some things that have been said on Facebook which are upsetting,” Isabel added.
According to the Daily Mail, Leanne reported the ongoing bullying to the police but nothing came from it.
“We’re all utterly devastated. Leanne knew so many people and had so many great friends. She was the life and soul of the party and loved a night out but she lived for her wee boy and Mason is our main concern,” a heartbroken Isabel said.
Leanne’s body was identified by her brother, William (20), and her uncle Donnie Morrison (40) after the alarm was raised.
If you’re a victim of relentless bullying by faceless predators, here are a few ways you can either put a stop to it, or prevent it from ruining your life.
1. Silence is the best answer. According to Delete Cyberbullying, sometimes saying nothing is the perfect response. Bullies feed off retaliation – it energises them. Keep calm and scroll on or log off, whichever you prefer. They’ll lose steam eventually.
2. Record the evidence. Save those messages, screenshot the fake account profiles and download any audio recordings sent your way, Seventeen magazine suggests. This is crucial in the event you decide to report it (which is the next step).
3. Report the bullying. Delete Cyberbullying advises you either report it to the administrator of the site – which would result in the account being suspended or even closed down completely – or you can report the online abuse to the police.
4. Reach out. Bullying in any form can lead to low self-esteem and even depression. That’s why, Seventeen says, it’s important to speak to a trusted friend, family member or a counsellor. You might think online trolling is isn’t as bad as verbal or physical bullying in person, but it can have severe effects.