Just four short weeks ago the front page of the Leitrim Observer carried a picture of a smiling 15 year old Ciara Pugsley from Dromahair engaging in one of the many pursuits that were a key part of her life as she participated in the Leitrim Sub-Aqua Club Swim, Fin and Snorkel from Jamestown to Drumsna.
Tragically Ciara was laid to rest in the new cemetery at Creevelea Abbey last Sunday with vast crowds descending on the village for her removal on Saturday evening and again the following afternoon for her funeral.
In the days after Ciara’s tragic death last Wednesday (September 19) there has been strong condemnation of the online bullying that is widely believed to have led to Ciara taking her own life.
Questions have been asked in a stunned community and further afield about the merits of various websites with one in particular website, ask.fm, coming in for a lot of criticism as a result of the bullying that Ciara was subjected to.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer this week Ciara’s father Jonathan Pugsley appealed to young people to communicate with each other and their parents.
He said he wants young people to know that taking your own life “is not the right thing to do.”
He pleaded, “Just don’t do this, your family and your friends need you.” He said we wants Ciara’s unnecessary death to make young people and parents aware of cyber bullying.
He said he never thought his bubbly, chatty, confident daughter could be “vulnerable” to on-line bullying and he asked young friends to communicate “face to face” with each other.
Gardai are investigating some of the last posts to Ciara on ask.fm. They are seeking to find the identities of some of the anonymous writers.
Mr Pugsley likened social media to gambling and said it is addictive. He said people need to educate themselves and know they can “switch off the phone.”
A friend of Ciara’s family, Eugene O’Neill described the cyber-bullying as “dangerous” and “a lethal weapon.”
Speaking at Ciara’s funeral mass Mr O’Neill stressed Ciara “did not want to die ... She was driven to it. She was driven to it by this appalling evil that has invaded our community. Internet bullying attacks our young most vulnerable people 24-7. They cannot get away from it.
“I appeal to those involved in this dreadful activity to see the devastating consequences of their malicious comments here today.”
At last Monday’s monthly meeting of County Leitrim VEC a motion of sympathy was passed and a minute’s silence was observed in memory of Ciara.
See Pages 3 and 7 for further coverage.