Former “Australia’s Next Top Model” judge and TV personality Charlotte Dawson was found dead of an apparent suicide in her apartment in a Sydney suburb on Saturday, the Daily Telegraph wrote. The 47-year-old was a judge on the show for eight seasons.
The model publicly suffered with depression and abuse by social media trolls. In August 2012, she was hospitalized for a highly publicized suicide attempt following cyber bullying.
A friend of the troubled TV host told the Daily Telegraph that the former model was in “the worst shape emotionally” he had seen her in recently. She reportedly failed to meet up with friends in the days before her tragic death and after she hadn’t shown to a lunch appointment and remained inactive on social media for 19 hours, friends called her the building manager at Dawson’s apartment building early Saturday morning.
“She was in very bad shape. Terrible shape,” a friend, who asked not to be named, told the news site. “She had failed to show up to a lunch a couple of days ago and then when I had seen she hadn’t tweeted in almost a day it was clear something was wrong.”
Dawson was a strong anti-bully advocate and even wrote a book about it, “Air Kiss and Tell,” in which she details the experiences she’s had with social media monsters.
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News of the Kiwi-born model’s death has shaken those who were closest to her. Actor Russell Crowe, who knew the blonde beauty since she was a teenager, reportedly broke down in tears when he heard the news. “Charley D ... Just don't understand,” the actor wrote on Twitter. “There's not enough kind souls as it is. Rest in peace.”
The Daily Telegraph did not directly say cyber bullying directly led to her suicide, but instead insinuated that financial problems could have been partly to blame for Dawson's apparent suicide. She was reportedly struggling to pay her rent of $1,200 a week for an apartment she shared with a male friend.
Top mental health advocate BeyondBlue has spoken out in the wake of Dawson’s death. CEO Kate Carnell said illnesses like depression are usually linked to varied factors, which includes genes, but added nonstop online abuse can intensify mental health anxieties.
“With depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts -- it’s always a mixture of things,” Carnell said on Sunday, according to The Guardian. “I don’t think we can say that it was the cyber bullying ... but putting significant extra stress on her certainly would have made things worse.”
Carnell added that Facebook has better ways of protecting people against social media bullying than Twitter and Instagram. “They’ve got to find better ways to be able to respond really quickly to reports of this sort of bullying,” she said
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