Cyberbullied son couldn’t see way out: mum

Grieving mother Dina Halkic likens social media to a loaded gun.


She says her 17-year-old son, Allem, was driven to suicide because of relentless cyberbullying in 2009.

Mrs Halkic and her husband had no idea their son was feeling troubled and were stunned when they saw messages on his phone and social media after his death.

“We could not believe what we were seeing,” Mrs Halkic told an anti-bullying event in Melbourne on Friday.

“The text messages and over 300 posts in the weeks leading to our son’s death, they were relentless, they were very harsh, derogatory comments.

“Unfortunately my son couldn’t see a way out and that was his only option.”

The Altona Meadows teenager had received derogatory and threatening messages on his phone and through social networking sites from a former friend following a falling-out.

Mrs Halkic says she and her husband had no idea what had been going on in the life of the Altona Meadows teenager.

“He was so, so smart and intelligent and he had aspirations and dreams,” she said.

“We felt so much to blame. We just didn’t understand it.”

She said they could not let another family go through what they had and more education was needed.

“We had no ideas of the dangers that could happen inside the house,” she said.

“(Social media) is like a loaded gun that you give your child.

“To take his own life, our son didn’t deserve that.”

Bully Zero Australia Foundation, which provides care to bullying victims, predicts that by 2020, cyberbullying will be the biggest social issue facing Australians.

“Hug your kids because there’s a lot of families out there, in fact almost 300 of them this year, that won’t be able to hug their children as a result of the scourge of cyberbullying,” foundation chief executive Oscar Yildiz told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

Shane Phillip Gerada, who had sent Allem five threatening text messages in the hours leading up to his death, was convicted in 2010 of one count of stalking. He was sentenced to an 18-month community-based order.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.