awful days Mother of Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox reveals how she struggled on anniversary of her daughter's death
'I feel a bit lighter now, I know that doesn't make sense, but it was just those three days that were awful'
Dublin mum Jackie Fox whose daughter, Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox, died by suicide after suffering relentless bullying, has revealed how she struggled on the anniversary of her death this week.
Jackie led a campaign for the enactment of new laws against online harassment – known as ‘Coco’s Law’ – after her 21-year-old daughter died by suicide in 2018 when she was bullied on social media.
Speaking following the fourth anniversary of Nicole’s death Jackie said she found it particularly tough.
“It's the first time I've been able to get out of bed after three days, from the 18th to the 20th,” Jackie said.
“It was just horrendous. I didn't even get dressed.
“I feel a bit lighter now because the 20th is over, I know that doesn't make sense, but it was just those three days that were awful.
“It was on January 18th that we found her, and on the 19th we were in the hospital, and then she died on the 20th, so it's not only one day it's three, really.
“And then there’s the week leading up to it too, because you know it's coming. I knew it was going to be hard but I didn't think it was going to be this hard.
“My whole family was devastated.”
Jackie revealed that she stayed off social media over the course of the three days but when she went back onto Facebook, she was blown away by the level and number of messages of support and sympathy.
“I couldn't talk to anybody or message them over those days but when I went back on this morning it was just mind-blowing,” she said.
“People are so kind. The people that have supported me all the way through the campaign, it’s like they knew her.
“I had to put up a message thanking them all because I couldn't personally thank each and every one myself, there must have been thousands of messages.”
Jackie also revealed how a function where she was to receive a Freedom of South Dublin County Council award for her campaigning work this week has been postponed.
“I couldn't do it,” she admitted. “I thought it was a good idea at the time, to do it on the anniversary, but there was just no way.
“But the Mayor, Peter Kavanagh, rang me himself and he's so good and so kind. He told me that even if there are still Covid restrictions in place, that we'll put up a marquee if we need to, and then I can invite anyone I want.
“So, it's just postponed and I’ll be picking another date soon.”
Jackie previously revealed how Nicole, who was affectionately known as Coco to friends and family, had been suffering from persistent online abuse since the age of 18.
The bullying had continued even after Nicole had attempted suicide in 2016.
Jackie said that since the new anti-bullying law was enacted in February of this year, parents now have legal support for teenagers who are being targeted.
“Unfortunately, when my Nicole was going through it, there was no legislation and it wasn’t a criminal offence because there was no law, but there is now,” she told the Sunday World previously.
The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill also, referred to as ‘Coco’s Law’, was passed by President Michael D Higgins on December 28, 2020.
Coco’s Law outlaws a wide range of offences, including online abuse, cyber- bullying and image-based abuse.
Under the new bill, if there is ‘intent to cause harm’, the offence carries an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to seven years. If there is no intent to cause harm, the same offence will be punishable by a maximum penalty of €5,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment.
When it was enacted on February 10 of last year, it created new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
Jackie is still on a mission to get the word out about Coco’s Law as there are still people who are unaware that it exists.
“I don’t think anybody has been convicted under Coco’s Law yet, but there are cases before the DPP, where it will be used,” she said.
“And I’m getting more and more calls now from people about it as word gets out. And it’s getting bigger. As well as the bullying there is the sharing of intimate images that I’m getting a lot of calls, particularly, from schools, about.”
Jackie said she had also found this Christmas very difficult, as it was one of Nicole’s favourite times of the year, but she says her relentless campaigning keeps her going.
“I go into schools and colleges as well as Youthreach centres, where I talk about Nicole and bullying and the devastation that suicide causes. I tell them to be careful about what they say to each other. I have talks lined up all through January, February and March that are all booked out.
“I talk in the schools and then every single person there goes home knowing who Nicole is. But the number of people I come across who are still unaware of Coco’s Law proves there is a lot more work to be done.
“If bullying doesn’t directly affect you, if it’s not on your doorstep, then you may not be fully aware of the issue and how many people are affected by it. So that’s why it is important that we keep getting the word out.
“I’m never going to let Nicole be forgotten,” she adds, “and through Coco’s Law we will keep her legacy alive.”
If you have been affected by the issues mentioned above, contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123
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