A teenage girl who took her own life following what her mother termed a campaign of racist abuse named her tormentors in a suicide note, her mother said.
Mia O’Neill (16) died in September six years after the abuse began. By the time she was in sixth class, she was self-harming.
“They would say go back to Africa even though she was Irish. They would make monkey sounds and blow out their faces,” her mother said.
Gardaí appeared powerless to stop it and despite some medical treatment, Ms O’Neill ended her life.
“We were told (by gardaí) to ignore it...and hopefully they would end up getting tired and leave her alone. But that never happened,” her mother Aisling told RTÉ’s Liveline programme on Thursday.
She said the abuse directed against her daughter, who was mixed-raced, was racist and orchestrated initially by one person who then “recruited” family and friends to join in.
It was typically conducted in person in the north Tipperary community in which she lived.
“She couldn’t get away from it,” her mother explained, adding that they had reported various instances to gardaí who spoke to the individuals but said there were insufficient laws to allow them do anything.
Ms O’Neill was advised to try and use her phone to record some of the incidents but she was never able to capture anything.
Her daughter eventually got access to therapy and while some improvements were initially made her therapist moved to another job which had a “detrimental effect” on her. For the next 12 to 18 months, her mother said, there was no replacement.
Last summer, she made her first suicide attempt.
The family were unhappy about the follow-up care. Having been left in a public emergency department, they were then sent home and told to link in with Pieta House, the suicide prevention charity.
“I was extremely shocked and queried why had we not met a crisis team, was she not going to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist, were they not going to admit her?,” her mother said, adding that subsequent psychology services fell far short of what her daughter needed.
In September, Ms O’Neill died by suicide and while gardaí have a copy of her note naming three specific individuals, they are not investigating the alleged harassment.
“She was a good-hearted, decent, caring person,” her mother said. “She was very empathic towards other people. She had a huge group of friends - a lot of people have been seriously affected by her loss.”
She said her efforts to confront the bullies before her daughter’s death were futile. “They seem oblivious, oblivious to the fact that they sent my daughter to her death.”
She pleaded with people to just “be kinder to each other and mindful of what comes out of their mouth.”