10 years ago this week, 18 year old Cork girl, Leanne Wolfe took her own life after enduring 3 years of bullying. Leanne’s parents were on holiday in Spain when the phone rang and their son simply said “Leanne is gone”.
Leanne’s mother, Colette’s mothering instincts took over and, from all those miles away, she had to tell her two surviving kids what to do. “She carried this pink morning coat everywhere she went…it was thread bare and it looked like it was about fifty-years-old…I said to Anthony, make sure that goes with her, that will have to go with her.
“Tell everybody leave the room and then I want you to put the phone down to her, so I can talk to her,” she told her son.“I told her, Leanne, mammy and daddy are on the way home, we won’t be long and we will be back and we will sort it all out.”
On the night she took her own life she sent one last message to her parents, saying how much she loved them.
“I love you two more than anything in the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better mam and dad”
After her death, Leanne’s sister Triona, found 5 years of diaries in her room, in which she talked about her life, boys, horseriding, her love for her family. As the years went on the mundane daily details were replaced by tales of the world of cruelty, viciousness and gang rule that Leanne endured. Her parents had no idea.
In one of her last entries, Leanne’s despair is clear..
“Dear diary, if anything happens to me, I want this and the previous page read at my funeral. Well the last few days have clearly been the worst for me, Monday I met Mary1 and she thumped me straight into the face, I have a big black eye. I’m mortified. I couldn’t even hit her back and not with everyone laughing at me.
“I’m going to the disco tonight, I’m afraid in case she beats me up in front of everyone. The whole lot of them is snakes, I have no real friends. I am known as a slut and a tramp and a fatty…. this has gone on for too long. I can’t go on with this s**t no more. I really cant it’s not fair. What did I do to her, or any of them?” she wrote.
After her death, police found the a number of messages on her phone including this one.
“You, ya whore, on my nan’s soul you wouldn’t want to bump into me anytime soon, I swear because I am going to break your face. You are worse than the prostitutes.”
Colette said “I phoned the bully who sent Leanne her last text. She answered and said: ‘You listen here, I didn’t shove the f**king tablets down her throat’.”
Extracts of Leannes diaries were made into a radio documentary, and while it’s tough to hear, we recommend that you listen to it. You can access it here.
Here at the Shona Project, we talk about all of the challenges young women in Ireland face. At the very heart of what we do, is teaching about the harm caused by bullying. If you are being bullied, please ask for help. Talk to someone, a parent, a relative, a teacher, a friend. Its hard, we know that, but we promise it will pass.