Sam Boyer

Sam Boyer is a police reporter for the NZ Herald.

Funeral in Oz expected for Dawson

Friend says former model would not have wanted ceremony to be in New Zealand.

Charlotte Dawson had been the target of Twitter trolls. Photo / Getty Images
Charlotte Dawson had been the target of Twitter trolls. Photo / Getty Images

Charlotte Dawson's funeral is expected to be held in Australia, with her sisters today planning details with the former model's best friends.

Memorials will be held for the 47-year-old in both Australia and New Zealand, but her funeral and cremation are expected to take place on the other side of the Tasman.

Her sisters Vicky Dawson and Robin Barclay flew to Australia at the weekend to plan her funeral - a private cremation - with two of Dawson's closest girlfriends.

Dawson was found dead in her apartment in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo by real estate agent Noel Jenkins, the Age reported last night.

He was due to hold an open home at the apartment before a scheduled auction at noon and a crowd of people were waiting outside wanting to inspect it.

Friend Jonathan Marshall told the Herald yesterday that Dawson would have wanted her final ceremony on Australian soil.

"I know Charlotte definitely wanted to have a funeral in Australia. I have heard talk of a funeral back in New Zealand, but I can tell you she would hate that."

Dawson made her feelings on her home country well known over the years.

She left New Zealand in 2007, telling a newspaper her reputation had been damaged by "nasty snipes" so badly that "I can't come back because people don't want to employ me".

Five years later, she reiterated her stance, saying she left New Zealand because it was "small, nasty and vindictive".

"She clearly thought New Zealand had it in for her," Marshall said. "But I don't think that was true; you couldn't not love Charlotte."

Her manager in NZ, Andy Haden, said he received the not-unexpected phone call on Saturday.

"I wasn't hugely surprised because we'd all dreaded this. We hoped it wouldn't but thought this could happen to her.

"We were all desperately hoping there would be some other outcome in her life, but it wasn't to be," he said.

Dawson had long battled depression and in 2012 she was hospitalised after she was the target of Twitter trolls abusing her on social media.

"She was a very kind, giving sort of a person," Mr Haden said. "But she battled with her demons."

He said the abuse she received on Twitter made her private battles more difficult.

Celebrities 'easy targets'

Celebrities like Charlotte Dawson are easy targets on Twitter, a social media expert says.

Dr Bodo Lang said the 47-year-old's publicised battle with depression mixed with the openness of Twitter was a volatile combination. "If you've got depression and you're a public person on TV and on Twitter, that's a difficult position.

"Even though her campaign against cyberbullying was a great idea, it made her a target. Charlotte Dawson was a victim of social media and depression. Social media magnified it."

The anonymity of Twitter made it easy for people to be nasty, said Dr Lang, a senior marketing lecturer at the University of Auckland.

The best way to combat social media "trolls" was to limit your online profile and keep your networks tight. Ignoring people who chose to abuse you was crucial, he said, because engaging with them only spurred them on.

"And if it's something that is borderline illegal [that the trolls threaten] then refer them straight to the police. Take it from the online world into the real world."

Where to get help

* Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865
* Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
* Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
* Healthline: 0800 611 116
* Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234.

- NZ Herald

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