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Father starts campaign for 16-year-old daughter who killed herself after years of homophobic abuse

Josh Jackman March 16, 2017
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A man whose 16-year-old daughter killed herself after years of bullying over her sexuality has publicised her suffering to raise awareness.

The Julia Derbyshire Campaign has been started by her father, with the associated hashtag #SASSY (Support Against Self-Harm and Suicide in Youth), to raise awareness about mental health.

Julia, who lived in Warrington, in Cheshire, passed away in 2015 after she came out as gay to a friend.

She moved to Missouri with her family when she was four, and was apparently a happy enough child until she was 12, when she told someone she thought was her friend that she “might like girls”.

The girl spread a message around the school that she had come out as a lesbian, resulting in Julia enduring years of mental and physical abuse from other students.

Her father Adrian, a former international wheelchair fencer who was an Olympic flagbearer at the 2012 Games, said: “She was just exploring her sexuality and wanted to share it with her friend.

“But her friend told all the school, and it started there.’

Adrian, 42, moved her back to Warrington to escape the bullies, and it helped – her confidence grew, and she talked about studying journalism at university.

But students from her old school were still contacting her online with hateful messages.

Julia tried to kill herself in October 2015.

Adrian gave her CPR until the ambulance arrived, but she died in hospital five days later.

He timed the beginning of the campaign to mark March 8, which was both International Women’s Day and what would have been Julia’s 18th birthday.

Adrian said: “It was a horrific week for myself, my family and Julia’s friends building up to Julia’s 18th birthday.

“I wasn’t going out with Julia on her birthday having champagne and celebrating – I was taking flowers to her grave. I then knew something needed to be done.”

Related topics: Homophobia, lesbian, Missouri, olympics, school, suicide

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