Australians loved her. They knew her name.
She was the Akubra Hats girl, the face of the iconic outback hat company’s advertising campaign when she was younger. She became the symbol of Australia’s Outback.
Now she’s gone.
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Amy Jayne Everett, known as Dolly, killed herself on Jan. 3 “to escape the evil in this world,” her father says.
By evil he means bullies.
She was 14.
Everett has invited the people who harassed his “Doll” to her funeral on Friday to see what they have wrought.
“If by some chance the people who thought this was a joke and made themselves feel superior by the constant bullying and harassment see this post, please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created,” Tick Everett wrote on Facebook Sunday.
Thousands of sentiments and condolences pouring in on social media reveal shock and broken hearts all around Australia, and far beyond.
On Wednesday the family released a statement to media outlets that described “the kindest, caring, beautiful soul” that the little girl in the hats had grown up to be.
“She was always caring for animals, small children, other children at boarding school who were less fortunate than herself,” the family’s statement read, according to The BBC.
The family shared one of her recent drawings — a skinny figure bent over backwards under the words, “speak even if your voice shakes.”
“This powerful message tells the dark, scary place our beautiful angel had traveled to,” the family wrote.
The wide-brimmed Akubra hats Dolly modeled as a little girl are one of Australia’s most recognizable brands, an iconic symbol of rural Outback life.
The company and her family have launched anti-bullying campaigns in her name.
One in five children in Australia say they were bullied in the past year. According to Australia’s National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB), while overall bullying rates have declined slightly over the last decade, cyberbullying has risen sharply, The BBC reported.
Cyberbullying is relentless, 24/7, and the anonymity of the Internet makes it difficult for bullies to feel empathy for their victims, the group’s Jeremy Blackman told the BBC.
On its Facebook page Tuesday, Akubra urged people to be check up on their “mates.”
“To think that anyone could feel so overwhelmed and that this was their only option is unfathomable. Bullying of any type is unacceptable,” the company’s post said.
“It is up to us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour. Dolly could be anyone’s daughter, sister, friend.”
Everett wrote that his daughter’s life will not be wasted if others who feel lost or are suffering can be helped. Australian media report the family wants to set up a trust to raise awareness of bullying, anxiety, depression and youth suicide.
“I know for some suicide is considered cowardly but I guarantee those people wouldn’t have half the strength that my precious little angel had, Doll had the strength to do what she thought she had to do to escape the evil in this world,” Everett wrote.
“However unfortunately Dolly will never know the great pain and emptiness left behind.”
He ended the post with a string of hashtags, including this: #SPEAKNOWEVENIFYOURVOICESHAKES.