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How bullying ate away a girl's will to live

FIGHTING BACK: Katiesha Brown, 16, attempted to kill herself after being bullied. Pictured with her mum Elizabeth Brown.
FIGHTING BACK: Katiesha Brown, 16, attempted to kill herself after being bullied. Pictured with her mum Elizabeth Brown. David Nielsen

WHEN Katiesha Brown woke up in the hospital after attempting to take her own life, she felt disappointed.

The 16-year-old Ipswich teen was the victim of bullying at school and one day, after being intensely teased by her peers, she snapped.

It wasn't the first time she had tried to end her existence, just to make the bullying and hurtful comments stop.

She says there was limited support offered to her at Bundamba State Secondary College, although the school does have targeted anti-bullying programs.

Katiesha was also let down by her peer group.

She said attempts to confide in her "friends" about what was bothering her only made her situation worse.

Instead of comforting her, those peers shared her secrets with others and the bullying intensified.

After her suicide attempt in term one, Katiesha stopped going to school - unable to face the prospect of more bullying.

"When I woke up in the hospital and realised I wasn't dead, I was disappointed," she said.

"I felt dead on the inside.

"I did go back to school for a while afterwards.

"People were saying that I was selfish for what I had done. That I was faking it. That didn't help.

"I just wanted it all to stop."

She has been able to focus on the positives, including relief she had not left her loving mum behind.

Elizabeth Brown was immensely relieved to still have her daughter with her and hopes she can help Katiesha see killing herself isn't the answer.

"I love her, I don't want to lose her," Elizabeth said.

Education Queensland said Bundamba State Secondary College has a range of anti-bullying measures including health ambassadors, targeted support through the school guidance officer, a support coach and a committee that meets fortnightly.

Katiesha wasn't able to connect with any of these support programs.

She was shy, and sceptical, about opening up on her experiences and feels the school abandoned her.

Through her GP, Katiesha tried to access help through Headspace and another program called Butterfly Kids. She didn't feel comfortable until she found a support program where her mother Elizabeth could accompany her.

When asked what could have been done to help her more, Katiesha says the school could have done more to intervene and protect her.

But it's also clear the youngster feels most let down by the lack of empathy from her peer group.

"The bullying made me feel really hurt and upset," Katiesha said. "I just tried fitting in.

"When I opened up to people, they just went around telling others and then I got teased about it."

Her mother Elizabeth, who suffers Type 1 diabetes among a range of health issues including being legally blind, said the school ignored pleas to intervene, saying "the student must come forward to make a complaint".

"Schools need to listen to parents more," Elizabeth said.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said matters involving student welfare were taken seriously and "with the utmost priority".

"Bundamba State Secondary College takes all reports of bullying seriously and promotes a safe learning environment for the entire school community," the spokesperson said.

The school operates under a statewide program, Positive Behaviour for Learning model, the spokesperson said, which uses a range of strategies to help create a safe and supportive environment.

Katiesha wants to finish school, and one day hopes to own her own business.

If you are experiencing problems, contact Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Topics:  bullying editors picks fair go for ipswich fairgoforourkids


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