The family of a teenager who took her own life following restless racial abuse have revealed she named her bullies in a letter before she died.
Mia O’Neill, 16, from Limerick, who was mixed race, was abused ‘around the clock’ until the day she died, according to her devastated relatives.
And a family member has confirmed to FEMAIL that it was adults who were Mia’s tormenters rather than people her own age.
Her uncle Marc told the Irish Independent: ‘There is a toxic environment in Ireland and racial abuse is there, it’s undeniable.
‘When we look at the world and the way it’s constructed right now, it’s the most poisonous vacuum any young person can grow up in.’
Mia O’Neill, 16, took her won life following relentless abuse and bullying from adults, her family claimed
Mia’s family have now set up a foundation to provide help for youngsters who experience issues with their mental health
Ireland has become increasingly diverse in the past 20 years.
As of 2016, there were 535,475 non-Irish nationals living in Ireland, accounting for 11.6 per cent of the 4.7 million population, with the highest numbers living in Dublin and Cork.
These figures did not take into account people who have dual nationality, but are classed as Irish by the census.
While there is anecdotal evidence of a correlated rise in racial abuse, there is little in the way of official statistics on the problem.
Immigrant Council of Ireland Chief Executive Brian Killoran recently said the lack of statistics and the underreporting of racial abuse and attacks is a ‘big problem’.
Ireland’s growing diversity
In April 2016, there were 535,475 non-Irish nationals living in Ireland
Twelve countries accounted for 73.6 per cent of all non-Irish nationals in 2016: America, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK.
Countries with between 1,001 and 10,000 residents accounted for a further 19.7 per cent of the total: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Congo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Malysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudia Arabia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela.
Despite the attacks that Mia suffered, her family say they are not interested in creating a ‘witch hunt’ by naming the bullies, and have instead set up a foundation, the One Life Trust, to provide a safe space for youngsters aged 12 to 18.
Her grand-father William said it was hard to ‘talk about Mia in the past tense,’ and described her as a ‘very special’ girl.
The family also set up a Facebook page where they will document the foundation’s next steps. Pictured: An in memoriam picture of Mia
‘She looked after other people, but not herself. People were so mean to her,’ he said.
Mia, who wanted to become a make-up artist, battled with an emotional regulation disorder, and had been dealing with mental health issues since the age of 12.
She had previously self-harmed as a result of bullying.
Her family have paid tribute to her friends, who call themselves ‘Mia’s army’, who have rallied around since her death, and insist it was adults – rather than people her own age – who tormented the teenager.
Mia pictured on a night out before her death. She was described as a very special girl by her grandfather and a ‘force to be reckoned with’ by her uncle
Aisling and Mia together. Mia’s uncle Marc said the family wanted to help those who could not help themselves
Last week, Mia’s friends and family gathered to mark the one-month anniversary of the teenager’s death.
Her uncle Marc O’Neill, who volunteers at Pieta House, a charity providing help for people who experience suicidal thoughts, said the family want to be strong for others battling mental health issues.
He added that since his niece’s passing, friends have shared positive stories about her caring nature, revealing how she would give her pocket money to homeless people.
He described as ‘a force to be reckoned with’ and added she had a ‘heart of gold.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.