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Heartbreaking Story Of Online Bullying Ends in Tragedy: How Coco's Law Aims To Protect Others

In January 2018, Nicole took her own life.

The mother of a teenage girl who took her own life after being bullied online has told Kildare Today about her daughter's legacy and the importance of Coco's Law.

Describing her daughter, Jackie Fox from Tallaght said, "She was good in school and a wizard at maths. She wanted to be an accountant and go travelling but she never got to do any of those things. She loved to sing and dance. Everything was normal. She was happy growing up."

"When she turned seventeen or eighteen, she started getting bullied by one person in particular. That person then formed a group. It was all jealousy and drama. The main girl targeted Nicole physically. They burned her with cigarettes. They dislocated her hip. They just beat her up every chance they got.The mental abuse online really got into her head."

She added: "Online bullying is happening all the time. The person that bullied Nicole was 23 - adults. They made up pages online and tore Nicole apart. They told her every day 'go and die,' hang yourself'. The physical abuse, we did go to the Gardai. Nicole was too afraid to make a statement. With the mental abuse, there was no law to stop people mentally abusing her."

"Nicole overdosed on tablets. She ended up in hospital for four nights. The doctor asked Nicole did she regret it. She said 'Yes,' but then she clarified and said, 'No, I regret that it didn't work'."

Nicole's mam said that's when she realised the bullying "got into Nicole's head".

Nicole

Jackie said after the overdose, the bullies were more emboldened. They said they "were never going to leave her alone".

Two weeks before Nicole took her own life, she was happier. She was going out and she had a great Christmas, Jackie said.

" I thought everything was going to be okay but it all came crashing down."

In January 2018, Nicole took her own life.

"She was being constantly bullied online," her mam explained.

Jackie said on the morning of Nicole's death, she was visiting her mam.

When she got home, she collected her 14-year-old son Lee from school.

When she returned, she found Nicole hanging in the hallway.

She said Nicole was still alive. Her brother ran up the stairs and unhooked the lead.

She said on the way to the hospital, Nicole took a massive heart attack.

The ambulance crew got her heartbeat back. She was put on life support.

The bullies had always said they would "leave Nicole on life support".

Jackie said "they got their wish".

"I couldn't comprehend what the doctors were saying to me," Jackie said. "The nurse on the Saturday told me it's time and I knew then that Nicole wasn't coming home. The last words I said was, 'just let go, baba'."

Jackie threw herself into campaigning.

She said it was only later on that she felt the anger and hate for Nicole's bullies. She said she doesn't let them consume her life now.

"I had a choice, the choice was to stay or go with Nicole. I needed to see her. I needed to hug her. I needed to kiss her."

Jackie got a phone call from her cousin who helped to focus her mind.

That's when she had meetings with Ministers and TDs.

She said they "laughed in her face".

She said meeting former Labour leader Brendan Howlin helped to move things along.

The result is Coco’s Law, which banned for the first time the sharing of intimate images without a person’s consent.

She said Coco's Law will make sure Nicole will never be forgotten.

The bill was signed into law by the President in December 2020.

On February 9th 2021, Coco's Law was passed.

Minister Helen McEntee said the legislation would “provide an effective tool to bring to justice those who use technology to harm others”.

Listen to the full interview.

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