A young Co. Armagh man who has become a champion against bullying has said he would thank his tormentors for making him the person he is today.
Joshua Hewitt, who almost took his own life due to sustained bullying, is to appear next week on a Channel 5 series on online trolling.
The 19-year-old from Richhill will feature on ‘Celeb Trolls, We’re Coming To Get You’, in which people, including those in the public eye, share their stories of being targeted online, with some confronting their abusers.
The teenager was flown out to London for a day’s filming, and was interviewed by host Frankie Bridge from girl band The Saturdays.
He said, “She was lovely, very down-to-earth. She asked me what I would say to the bullies now and I told her.
“I am thankful for what happened. I have more confidence, I don’t worry about things as much, and through it I have found my passion for YouTube.
“I was given the choice of confronting the bullies but I didn’t think it was worth it. I would rather leave it in the past.”
Joshua, who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, was bullied both at primary and secondary school and online.
He said, “Online was the worst because you can’t forget it - the digital footprint is always there.”
Just five years ago, he had reached the depths of such despair that he was on the point of taking his own life, and was only prevented from doing so when a passing police officer saw him sitting on the ledge of a bridge.
Joshua found the strength to speak about his experiences through his YouTube blog. “I just got to the point where I didn’t want people to make the mistake I was so close to making,” he said.
Since then, he has transformed his life, winning the Ignition Campaigner of the Year award for his work on raising awareness of mental health.
He has also launched his YouTube channel, The Hewitt Collective.
The programme will be screened on August 31 at 10pm.