Content Warning: This article discusses suicide
Seventeen-year-old Kyanne Pryor was supposed to start uni in February. Instead of enrolling in her classes, Kyanne was at the morgue applying makeup to her little sister’s face.
Through tears Kyanne tells NITV's The Point she was the only one that dressed her sister's body. Everyone else in her family couldn’t.
Kyanne says her sister's name was Rochelle – or ‘Rochie’ for short – and that she was a kind, fun-loving regular 14-year-old.
The two siblings didn't meet until Rochie was 7-years-old, but since then they'd formed a strong bond, living in the southern Perth suburb of Kardinya with their father.
Then about a year ago, Kyanne says Rochie became the victim of bullying from her peers at school. She says her little sister came to her with the problem and that she tried her best to sort it out.
Kyanne says losing her baby sister has "destroyed" her.
“We got on so well. Me and her were together all the time,” she says. “She was hilarious aye. Always cracking a smile on my face. She was so smart, Grade-A student, caring, and all that. She was one of a kind."
Kyanne says after her sister came to her "a few times" about the bullying, she took it upon herself to go to the school to make a complaint.
“She did get bullied a lot with racism and just all nasty things,” Kyanne says. "When I did go to the school, they escorted me off school premises, so I couldn’t do anything really, but they did know it was happening and Rochelle did speak to them about it.”
"She didn't like school anymore"
In August 2018, an incident occurred at the school involving a group of Rochelle’s bullies and an adult male. There are allegations a physical confrontation occurred. Kyanne says her little sister came home with cuts to her legs. Police were called but no one was ever charged.
NITV News contacted WA Police to confirm the details about the incident, but have been told no record of the altercation exists.
Kyanne says she saw a change in her little sister after the incident. A change she describes as "sad".
“She didn’t really associate. She didn’t like school anymore. It got to a point where she stopped attending,” she says.
Over the summer holidays, the two sisters spent a lot of time at the beach together. No school should have meant the bullies couldn't get to Rochie.
But they did.
Rochelle continued to be abused and harassed online by her bullies. Some went as far as encouraging her to take her own life.
On 1 January, Kyanne and Rochelle spent the day in the south-east Perth suburb of Maddington. They had spent some time with other family members and returned to their home in Kardinya before heading out again into the city with friends.
Kyanne dropped her sister home in the early hours of 2 January. She would be the last person to see her baby sister alive.
“It was only like half an hour in between the time that I left her, and when I received a phone call saying she was going to the hospital,” she says.
There were no warning signs Rochie wanted to take her life, says Kyanne. She wasn't on the phone that much during their night together.
Rochelle was taken to Perth’s Children’s Hospital, where she stayed for nine days. Her mother and two eldest sisters flew to Perth from the east coast to be by her side.
On 10 January 2019, Rochelle Pryor died.
The Pryor family says they know why Rochelle was triggered.
On the night she died, Rochie wrote on social media: “once I’m gone the bullying and the racism will stop.”
In February, the West Australian government passed the Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill 2018 which has harsher punishments for online bullying. West Australian Attorney General John Quigley said cyberbullying is an issue all governments across Australia need to address and acknowledged its growing presence.
“Under existing State legislation, WA Police can lay charges relating to cyber-bullying,” Mr Quigley said in a written statement to The Point.
“Cyberbullying is considered an offence when it involves threats, stalking (including messaging someone to harm or scare them), defamation, accessing Internet accounts without permission and encouraging suicide.”
Western Australia also has restraining order provisions, which can be used to protect a person, including children, from online abuse, stalking, intimidation or harassment.
The Attorney General said the new laws will come into effect on April 15.
Sadly, the bullying of Rochelle Pryor didn't end with her life. A day before meeting with NITV News, Kyanne was sent abusive messages about her sister from an anonymous account.
“I’m so glad Rochelle died she deserved it,” one message read.
“Hope shes [sic] in hell,” read another.
Kyanne says she is currently gathering evidence from Rochelle’s social media accounts and hopes to hold her little sister’s bullies to account for their actions.
Kyanne and her dad are currently in the process of moving out of the home where Rochelle once lived.
“I don’t even sleep in my room, I sleep in the lounge room,” she says.
She has also become the sole caretaker for her father, who recently found out he has two types of cancer. Kyanne says she doesn’t know if moving will help with her grief, but keeping herself busy is her only coping mechanism.
She says she hopes the government will step up and make the change.
“They need to listen," she says. "They need to do their part and support the community. We are losing children you know. It's so sad.”
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.
For more, catch NITV's #ThePoint at 8.30pm tonight on Channel 34.