Last Thursday afternoon, Charlotte Dawson left the Emergency Psychiatric Care Unit of St Vincent's Hospital to tape an interview with 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown. She was driven to the brink of suicide by cruel comments posted on Twitter, urging her to kill herself.
She is an ambassador for the anti-bullying program Community Brave and wanted to do the interview to bring attention to cyber bullying and how it can, under certain circumstances, lead to someone taking their own life. People like Dawson who have a history of depression, when submitted to constant verbal abuse on Twitter or Facebook, can sink so far down into a black hole of self-loathing, it's very hard to climb back out.
I have no sympathy for cowards who spew abuse at others and it's great when their cruel taunts come back to bite them, like the woman who was outed and sacked for saying 'Go hang yourself.' But there are always two sides to a story and Charlotte admits she's got a problem. "I always bite back, I know it's my problem, but I can't just let it go without having something to say."
Most of us know how it feels to be hurt on line but if we react with a hateful comment back, they've won. Nobody likes being ignored and these trolls have big egos. They are counting on your outrage and by not reacting, they lose.
Last night on 60 Minutes she admitted she was very drunk when she tweeted "Hope this ends the misery" and "You win." The circumstances surrounding that awful night were a recipe for disaster. She went out to a function, came home, drank some more alcohol, starting reading the hateful tweets and couldn't stop. Because she lives alone, there was nobody there to help her snap out of it.
Her decision to be interviewed by 60 Minutes is already coming back to haunt her. This morning, there are rumours circulating that she did the paid interview to gain publicity for her new book. These accusations won't help Dawson's already fragile state of mind and I hope she is getting the help she needs to steer her through this difficult time in her life. I sincerely hope she comes out the other end a stronger, wiser woman.