For Corrine Lee-Cheu’s family, last Wednesday seemed like a completely normal afternoon for them.
The 13-year-old visited her grandmother after school, spoke to her aunt on the phone, then had dinner with her family before returning to her room.
Then she committed suicide.
“We are devastated. Completely lost,” grandmother Patricia Stewart told Daily Mail Australia.
“That afternoon she kissed and cuddled me and offered to mow my lawn.
Corrine Lee-Cheu (photo) died tragically on Wednesday September 13
“There was no indication that anything was wrong.
“Now we keep asking ourselves ‘why?’ »
The family had no idea of the torment she was going through and how much instances of bullying from other children had affected her.
Born the second eldest of five children, Corrine, who is from the Kuku-Warra Aboriginal people of Far North Queensland, was affectionately known as “Kinny” by her family.
Like other kids her age, the Atherton State High School 8th grader loved spending time with family, cooking, sometimes being a “girly girl” but sometimes being a “tomboy” – running around barefoot and driving tractors on the Lee-Cheus. Outback station near Atherton in Far North Queensland.
Ms Stewart said only two words were needed to describe Corrine: beautiful girl.
“She had a heart of gold,” Ms Stewart said.
“For me, she was my nanny’s baby. She and I just had a strong bond. Much stronger than any other grandmother and granddaughter I know.
“She mowed my lawn, she washed my dogs.
“We just connected. »
Corrine is pictured with her mother Jodie, father Monty and four siblings. The family is now mourning the loss of the 13-year-old
In the three months before her death, the family noticed a subtle change in Corrine’s behavior. The teenager would sometimes become grumpy for no reason.
Her mother Jodie and father Monty would ask her how she was, but each time the Year 8 student insisted she was fine.
About two months ago, Corrine was hit by a group of children near a local supermarket while she was walking around town.
The matter was reported to the police, but officers told the family they could not move forward with the case due to laws regarding juvenile crimes.
The incident was also reported to his school, which told the family it could not take action against those responsible because the attack did not take place on campus.
“She didn’t talk about it much. She kept it to herself,” Ms. Stewart said of the bullying.
“(When asked if she was okay), she would say, ‘Shut up, mom. Nothing is wrong with me.
Corrine’s grandmother, Patricia Stewart, said she was both a “girly girl” and a “tomboy”. She is pictured during a trip to the family train station
Despite Corrine’s denials, the family felt there were issues she wasn’t talking about, and the week before she died, they took her to the doctor for help.
But Ms Stewart believes it was too late.
Today, the family is determined to raise awareness about suicide prevention to try to prevent other families from experiencing the same heartbreak.
They believe Corrine failed because of a lack of support services in the area and insufficient policies to tackle bullying in schools.
The case echoes the suicide of 14-year-old Dolly Everett, who, like Corrine, was a rural Queensland girl who took her own life after being bullied and persecuted by other children.
Stewart says more counseling and youth programs are needed for teens who may be more comfortable confiding in support networks outside their homes and cracking down on kids who take it out on their peers.
“The worst thing is that they (the children) don’t talk about it (the bullying). They are ashamed to talk about it,” she said.
“And the Great North is forgotten. Doctors are almost non-existent. We had to take her to Cairns so she could see someone.
“Why don’t they have the resources? Why don’t we have doctors? It’s a vicious circle.
“When I was a kid, we had places like youth groups, where kids would get together and talk to someone. These are the things children need.
“And when there is harassment in the schools here, the offenders are held back a little, or they are suspended for a week and come back. A week is a holiday for them. They need to try something else. It does not work.
Ms Stewart said the family was still working to determine the extent of Corrine’s bullying as she had kept it all bottled up inside.
However, the family believes that what happened in her life must have been serious for her to have taken her own life and left everyone close to her “destroyed”.
Today, Ms Stewart is urging parents to be persistent and encourage their children to talk to someone if things don’t seem right.
“If there was something wrong, she would talk to me normally, but she didn’t,” she said.
“Ask your child to talk to you. As small as it is. Get them to talk,” Ms. Stewart said.
“If they don’t do it, go take them to someone to do it.” We weren’t quite lucky with Corrine, but maybe (we would have been) if we had allowed her access to services earlier.
Corrine was affectionately nicknamed “Kinny” by those close to her. She would have been 14 in November
Corrine’s aunt, Annie Fitzgerald, opened a GoFundMe to help the family financially following the tragedy while Monty is away from work.
Ms Fitzgerald is also currently working on organizing a fundraiser to help with teenage suicide prevention, particularly in Far North Queensland.
Corrine will say goodbye at a funeral service at Mountain View Chapel at 10am on Monday, September 25, with mourners asked to wear bright colors in memory of the teenager.
Ms Stewart said after Corrine was buried and the family had time to grieve, she was determined to get to work raising awareness of suicide prevention.
They also want a local plaque to be erected in Corrine’s name in the hope that when other children see her, they will remember her story and be encouraged to contact her before it is too late.
“We will not let his death take place in the veins.”
The Queensland Department of Education told Daily Mail Australia the Atherton State High School community was deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss and that students and staff were receiving counseling.
“Bullying is taken very seriously and all public schools in Queensland are required to have a student code of conduct which explicitly details how the school will work to prevent and respond to bullying and cyberbullying,” said the department in a press release.
“Any student experiencing mental health concerns is strongly encouraged to contact school staff immediately.
“Parents and guardians concerned about the safety and well-being of their child are also encouraged to contact the school immediately.”
For confidential support 24/7, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.