The father of a 13-year-old girl from an exclusive private Sydney girl’s school who took her own life has made a heartfelt address at his daughter’s funeral, saying ‘she made a terrible decision’.
The girl, from SCEGGS Darlinghurst school in Sydney’s inner east, was a Surf Lifesaving Association nipper as well as a talented soccer player.
She was farewelled at a funeral attended by more than one hundred family and friends including her year eight school classmates, who heard the teenager was an artist, nature lover and friend of animals who had wanted to make the world a better place.
Her funeral followed the school’s principal Jenny Allum taking the unusual step of advising parents of her death on March 23 via a group email.
The email said: ‘We understand that (the girl) may have taken her own life although we are not fully aware of the details of her passing.’
Amid speculation on social media that the Year Eight girl may have been bullied at one or more schools that she attended, her family has directed donations to Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation.
Daily Mail Australia has chosen not to identify the girl out of respect to her family, who did not wish to speak publicly about her death, saying that organisations like Headspace were best to discuss issues surrounding youth mental health.
CEO of national organisation Beyond Blue, Georgie Harman, told Daily Mail Australia that it was vital to have a discussion about youth suicide and that the SCEGGS Principal had made the right decision in informing the school community and that while ‘it is really shocking, talking about it is really the key’.
Tributes from the girl’s school friends and their families, as well as discussions about the mental well-being of teenagers have poured out on social media.
The response on Facebook to news of the girl’s death included an opinion posted by one woman who wrote ‘Mental health for kids is nearly non existent. More money should be put into our kids mental health’.
Mourners gathered at an inner city Sydney church on Wednesday last week to farewell the girl who had been swimming in her beloved ocean waves near her Eastern Suburbs Sydney home the day before her death.
The girl’s tragic death has caused an outpouring of emotion and comment on Facebook (above) after it was revealed in a SCEGGS school group email, prompting discussion about the fragility of young person’s mental health
Classmates from Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS) listened as the girl’s aunt and cousin read poems she had written about the ocean and about rain.
Afterwards the schoolgirls placed notes on her white coffin before it was carried from the church.
The girl’s father spoke of his daughter’s pain and struggles saying she ultimately made a ‘terrible decision’ to end her life.
He heartbreakingly told of how she had become distant from her parents in the last 12 months of her life, often retreating to her bedroom.
His voice wavered as he spoke to his daughter in the eulogy, saying when he hugs her in his thoughts she would no longer be able to push away and when he tells her he loves her she can no longer turn her back.
Her father said she was smart enough to evade her parents’ questions and also spoke of how the professionals couldn’t help in the end.
The girl’s mother revealed what the world would be like if her daughter had her way – a world without war, with endless kindness to all living creatures, a surf club jumper would be more prestigious than a business suit and it would always be acceptable to write in different colours, and doodle.
The father said the family was still trying to piece things together through various journal entries and drawings that the girl had done before tragically ending her life.
Tributes for the girl have poured in over social media for the girl since the school principal, SCEGGS head Jenny Allum, sent out the email to all parents informing them of the Year Eight girl’s suicide.
One of the girl’s classmates posted on Facebook, ‘I miss you so much … I’m gonna miss going to the bus stop with you from school. I hope you are much happier. School is never going to be the same’.
Other girls posted ‘you will be missed beautiful’ and one girl wrote ‘You were a great friend and had a beautiful heart. Rest in peace’.
News of Ms Allum’s letter has also fired debate about the stress young people undergo during their teenage years.
One of the girl’s schoolmates posted on Facebook, ‘And for all those people saying it should’ve been private I knew the girl and her parents want it to be in [the media] to warn other parents’.
A female Facebook user agreed, posting ‘At least they are not staying silent about the most silent tragedy in society. Suicide exists because we don’t talk about it.’
Another woman posted ‘stress that they see their only option is death! Life is beautiful and our young years our best … Our thoughts are with this poor family’.
Beyond Blue’s Georgie Harman said all suicides were ‘an unbearable tragedy, but when it is a young person with so much ahead of them it tends to be incomprehensible’.
‘There are seven suicides a day in Australia and a number of young people every year. There is a cautious note talking about it around young people.
‘But for younger people there’s a lot of stuff going on for kids in the teenage years. They are still learning the skills to cope and to regulate their emotions to manage their distress and it’s absolutely vital to equip them to handle this.
‘This can be discussed in a really healthy and empowering way and both Headspace and Beyond Blue have schools programmes.
‘What this principal did was absolutely right thing in saying this has happened and this is what I am going to do to do everything possible to protect the school community and to get a plan in place to prevent this happening again.’
Headmistress, Jenny Allum, informed parents of SCEGGS Darlinghurst students of the girl’s death in a group email more than two weeks ago.
‘It is with the greatest sadness that I inform you of the death of (name), a girl in Year 8,’ the email read, according to News Corp.
The discussion on Facebook in the wake of the girl’s death included women urging people to talk about youth suicide.
In her email to parents, Ms Allum wrote ‘This is a great tragedy which has affected us all deeply and will continue to do so for many days, weeks and months to come.
‘We understand that (the girl) may have taken her own life although we are not fully aware of the details of her passing.’
Ms Allum reassured parents that a ‘crisis’ team is in place to offer support to the school community as they struggle to deal with the devastating loss of the young teen.
The headmistress said she had already spoken for the child’s parents to pass on the school community’s condolences.
‘We are also in the process of phoning Year 8 parents to tell them the news and to talk to them about how to help their daughters in this tragic circumstance.’
‘This is an example of why we have to reach out and check on our friends @ruokday,’ one of the late student’s friend’s wrote on social media.