Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Website death threats made me suicidal says Josh
3:00pm Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
Schoolboy Josh Johnston is taking action against a social networking site that made him feel close to taking his own life.
Josh, 12, a pupil at the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, has spoken out about the daily barrage of death threats and insults he has received on Ask.fm, a site that has been linked to the death of bullied Leicestershire teenager Hannah Smith.
Josh is staging a protest in Royal Wootton Bassett on August 31.
A march will begin outside the Costa branch in Borough Fields at noon.
He hopes to take any supporters along the town’s High Street with banners, a petition and leaflets explaining the dangers of the website.
Ask.fm, a Latvia-based website, has been widely criticised for allowing users to post anonymous answers to others’ questions and has seen several national firms withdraw their advertising.
Josh, of East View, Broad Town, began using the site in September 2012, but started to receive threats, such as ‘go die’ or ‘go hang yourself’ from anonymous posters.
Josh’s father, Matt Johnston, 40, blocked the site, but peer pressure from the boy’s friends to join in drew him back.
“I have always had a problem getting along with people. When I came up to secondary school I wanted it to change,” said Josh.
“I still wanted to go on it because I couldn’t stand the thought of people saying things behind my back.
“I have nearly taken my own life. They made me feel worthless, as though I was not needed on this planet.
“They made me feel like my time had come.
“I didn’t really know how many people it was, or if they were people from school.”
The website asks for a name and email address when registering, though these can be falsified.
As a result the bullies cannot be traced.
He hopes the protest will give a voice to the thousands of children he believes are suffering in silence across the UK.
He also hopes Ask.fm’s chiefs will allow users to block anonymous posters in future, and trace those who threaten others.
Hannah Smith’s death, reported on August 2, proved the final straw for Josh.
Speaking of her death, Josh’s mother, Alison, 42, said: “Teenagers go off to their bedrooms and you have no idea the types of exchanges they are having on the web.
“We did block him from the site, but the peer pressure for him to go on it is huge. When he went back on it started up again.”