Tragic loss of Libby Bell: joint statement from Julie Inman Grant and Sonya Ryan

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the Carly Ryan Foundation acknowledge the trauma and pain caused within the Adelaide community following the tragic death of teenager Libby Bell who committed suicide following a reported campaign of bullying directed toward her, both online and offline.

“No child or family should have to experience such a heartbreaking tragedy, especially at the hands of bullying and cyberbullying,” says eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant

“Our Office applauds the many friends, family and others who have taken to social media with positive messages of support, and to take a stand against unacceptable bullying behaviour.”

The Carly Ryan Foundation was established by Sonya Ryan, who lost her own teenage daughter in tragic circumstances a decade ago when Carly was murdered by an online predator posing as a teenage boy.

“Loss is loss—there is no escaping the intensity of grief Libby’s parents and family are experiencing right now. I am personally offering my love and support to the family as they go through what no one should ever have to,” says Ms Ryan

“For every young person and for every adult experiencing pain or grief or the effects of negative behaviours such as cyberbullying—when there seems like there’s no way forward—know that you can reach out, that help is available.”

In dealing with cyberbullying and other online issues, the eSafety Office and the Carly Ryan Foundation believe in an holistic approach, working with the person being targeted, their family, their school, social media services, and when necessary, the police, to help address the issue.

“We all have a role to play in tackling these issues, and laws have their place in dealing with unacceptable behaviour in our society. However, it’s vital to raise awareness of the tools and resources that can prevent negative actions,” says Ms Inman Grant

“While laws can address the damage after the fact, they may not serve as a deterrent to teenagers, whereas education and early intervention can prevent devastating outcomes.”

The Carly Ryan Foundation works with schools across South Australia and the nation to empower young people to keep themselves and others safe while navigating the internet and apps.

“I see so many young people who think it is a sign of weakness to ask for help. When they learn that help is available, that they can take action, it has a life-changing effect,” says Ms Ryan.

If you know a young person experiencing serious cyberbullying, help is available. Any Australian under the age of 18, or an adult authorised by the young person, can report cyberbullying to esafety.gov.au/reportcyberbullying.

If you or someone you know needs help due to thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Julie Inman Grant or Sonya Ryan, please contact:
Dominique Tomarchio
02 9334 7873 and 0427 178 689 or media@esafety.gov.au.