Teen's death shows people just don't understand bullying

Why this beloved surf lifesaver, 13, took her own life

THE family of an Adelaide teenager who took her own life have issued an emotional public plea about bullying dangers as they paid tribute to a girl who "lit up a room".

Libby Bell, 13, was an award-winning state junior surf lifesaver and an outgoing and loved Year 8 student.

But on Monday last week, she died suddenly after what her family allege was a campaign of cyber bullying and physical abuse from peers at Seaford Secondary School.

Her grieving family has led tributes to the outgoing student, as they issued a public warning about the dangers of bullying that can start from "pointless teasing and ridicule" before escalating.

Student Libby Bell, 13, took her own life after being the subject of school bullying.
Student Libby Bell, 13, took her own life after being the subject of school bullying. Facebook

Her heartbroken parents, Crystal and Ryan, both 33, are being comforted at their southern suburbs home. They urged other parents to talk to their children about any problems.

Their brave public intervention came as friends posted scores of tributes on social media, while almost $20,000 had been donated through an online fundraiser.

The decision to speak out was in the hope of preventing another bullying-related death.

In their statement to The Advertiser, her devastated family paid tribute to a friendly, bubbly and beautiful girl.

"She had a million-dollar smile, her face lit up the room, she just had a beautiful smile - that was our Libster," Libby's uncle Clint Gow-Smith, 39, said.

"We understand schoolyard behaviour and what starts off as pointless teasing and ridicule which can soon escalate. So please, as a parent, hold your babies tight and for the teenagers, we plead for you kids to talk and walk tall."

He said it was "really important" that kids realise it is "cool to speak up" and to "branch out to someone" if they had any personal problems.

Libby Bell’s family has spoken out after she took her own life over bullying in the hope they might help other kids.
Libby Bell’s family has spoken out after she took her own life over bullying in the hope they might help other kids. Supplied

It is claimed Libby was a victim of a bullying incident at a fast food restaurant last year, which was filmed - one of several alleged incidents.

Libby was junior life saver of the year for Moana Surf Life Saving Club, where she had been a member since 2013.

Surf Life Saving SA chief executive Clare Harris paid tribute to a "much loved and respected" girl. "We are grieving the sudden and devastating loss of Libby," she said.

"Staff and volunteers ... stand with her family, friends and our members as we pull together to support each other."

Over the past week, friends and family have gathered at Moana where a shrine has been created.

The Education Department said it had "very strong" anti-bullying policies.

"It is really important that we are clear that bullying does have consequences," said child development executive director Ann-Marie Hayes.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.

To donate to the family go to www.gofundme.com/j3tc7-the-bell-family

News Corp Australia

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