The family of the 21-year-old British backpacker who fell to her death taking photos at a popular selfie spot in Sydney has opened up about her struggle with internet fame before her untimely end.
On January 12, Madalyn Davis reportedly climbed a fence at Diamond Bay Reserve, in Vaucluse, Sydney with friends after attending a party close by the night before.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 6.30am, and her body was pulled from the water at around 10.30am that same day.
Following the news of her death, among the many comments which paid tribute to the 21-year-old, were relentless trolls who criticised Ms Davis and her actions which lead to her death.
“The fact she had the audacity to disobey the warning signs is absolutely sickening,” one person said on social media, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Ms Davis’ mother, Rebecca Smith previously clapped back to the nasty comments on her Instagram.
“Madalyn was loved, she had integrity and decency. If you need to believe otherwise in order to feel better about yourself... that’s your pain,” Ms Smith said.
Now, the family has released a “full and final” statement, issued by a relative on Facebook, and speaks of how Instagram as a platform opened up Ms Davis to trolls, as the family begs for “peace and space” to mourn the loss and for “character assassinations to cease”.
The statement says Ms Davis was a “good person”, who always saw the best in people, though she struggled with a “world that could be so unkind”.
“She believed in universal oneness, the fundamental belief that she couldn’t hurt another human being, as to do so she would hurt herself,” the family wrote.
“This caused a lot of pain in her life, as a lot of people don’t believe in this sentiment and therefore, she was left vulnerable to abuse, resentment and manipulation.”
The family said Ms Davis would face everyday with optimism and a smile, and said she found fame on social media “inadvertently”.
Ms Davis had multiple Instagram accounts - her personal account with 21,000 followers, an account where she showcased her makeup skills and an account promoting her eyelash business.
“This [her presence on social media] enabled her to find a way to function in this world that could be so judgemental and cruel, she was acutely aware of this contradiction but her passion and zest for life meant she was able to continually overcome it.”
The family described Ms Davis as an “introverted extrovert”, and explained it was her “inquisitive nature” and “artistic drive” which led her to travel, something her parents supported.
“She packed more into her short years than we could possibly have hoped for,” her parents said, saying she was an inspiration to many, including them.
“Her accidental passing has been so sudden and has rocked us to our core.”
Addressing the relentless abuse which the family has seen since Ms Davis’ death, the family pleaded, during their time of grief, for all speculation and character assassinations to stop.
“Being able to read messages of support has given us so much strength, and we want to thank you for these kind words.
“Sadly, we have also had to read some abhorrent comments and vile opinions on Madalyn’s Instagram profile.”
The family said they “cannot comprehend” how those trolls could be so “heartless” to attack the family and Ms Davis’s character days after her death.
Ms Davis’ brother, sister and cousins are so hurt by the trolling, the family has announced they plan to lobby for the government and social media companies to tackle trolling, and deal with related issues more efficiently.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me to raise money for the family to bring trolling to the “forefront of the government and media companies attention” and lobbying for change in the law and response mechanisms for social media companies.
“We want to prevent anyone else facing needless suffering from cyber bullying,” the family said on GoFundMe.
The statement also asks not just people online, but also journalists to respect the family and friends of Ms Davis at this time.
“Please accept this as our full and final statement on this devastating accident any continuance of negative or hateful comments regarding Madalyn on social media channels may face legal action,” the family said.
“We cannot continue to endure this relentless persecution. Thank you for your understanding.”
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