Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland





The image or Georgina on the website which her lather doesn't recognise
The image or Georgina on the website which her lather doesn't recognise

A HEARTBROKEN Annahilt man whose teenage daughter committed suicide earlier this month is convinced influences she came under while using a social networking internet site contributed to the tragedy.

Ian McAllister's world tell apart along with that of his wife Vanessa and their son Stuart (16) on Saturday June 9 when 15 year old Wallace HS pupil Georgina, described in sympathy cards as someone whose smile would 'brighten up a room', took her own life in the garden of her home.

He now wants to ensure no other family has to suffer the terrible grief they are experiencing as they seek an answer to the question 'why?' and has urged parents to monitor their teenagers' internet usage in the run up to the long summer holidays.

During the past three weeks, while struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, Ian has taken a close look at Georgina's pages on the popular BEBO web-site.

He has found some of what he has read disturbing and feels even the photograph of the teenager featured on the site has a 'dark quality' which does not reflect the true nature of the daughter he knew and loved.

"Georgina was sporty, fun loving and constantly smiling," Ian said. "Some of the sympathy cards sent to us said her smile would brighten up a room.

"Her death has left everyone in limbo. A lot of people knew her through the Girls Brigade and youth club. She played

Georgina as her family knew her

Georgina as her family knew her

 netball for Larkfield and for her school.

`I had no idea the computer sitting in the kitchen could be so dangerous'

"A serious number of people knew Georgina - we are talking about pensioners right through to her school friends."

Ian now wonders if communicating with others through BEBO was making Georgina try to be older than she actually was or upsetting her in some other

 way. He said she had recently had hair extensions put in and had never been 'clamped down on' in any way: "She even made a new circle of friends outside the friends she already had at school," he added.

He also said he had discovered it was possible to cut and paste quotations from other parts of the internet on to the BEBO site. Many of these, he explained, were 'very positive', but he pointed out 15 year olds using social networking sites were communicating with older people, many in the 18 to 21 age group.

"People aged 18 to 21 do different things to those aged 15," he continued.

"The danger seems to be that 15 year olds do not realise it's normal to be engaging in activities for 15 year olds - especially when they read about others their age doing things they should not really be doing. They begin to think they should be doing these things too, but they are not ready for them."

Since Georgina's death Ian has discovered police have concerns about the use of networking websites by teenagers.

He explained officers have found young people using them to arrange to go to venues such as nightclubs, despite being underage.

The high esteem in which Georgina was held was borne out by the large number of people' who attended her funeral on the afternoon of Wednesday June 13. Ian hopes by heeding his warning on the possible dangers of the internet no other parents will have to endure the ordeal of burying their child.

"I had no idea the computer sitting in the kitchen could be so dangerous. I hope people will take an interest in what their teenagers are doing on it," he said

Ulster Star