THE father of an Irish teenager living in England has said his daughter took her own life after being bullied for years simply because she had red hair.
Enda Farrell, who moved with his family from Galway to the UK in 2001, is calling for discrimination against ginger-haired people to be made a hate crime.
Helena Farrell’s body was found in dense woodland half a mile from her home in January of this year and despite an inquest not yet establishing a cause of death, her father is convinced it was suicide.
Mr Farrell believes the 15-year-old killed herself partly to escape the constant abuse she had suffered due to her rare hair colour.
Mr Farrell, originally from Wexford but now living in Kendal, Cumbria, said: “People need to realise that when they say the things they do, it can have deeply traumatising effects and can lead to self-harm and suicide.
“Helena's death was not just because of it but the bullying she faced all her life certainly contributed.”
Mr Farrell wants police forces to acknowledge hair colour as a as a motivation for hate crime.
He claimed Helena had been bullied for being ginger from a young age.
The grieving father spoke out after last week’s unofficial “Kick a Ginger Day”, thought to have been inspired by the American cartoon South Park, which he said had caused one red-head Kendal boy to skip school and leave early the next day.
An inquest into Helena's death is expected to expected to conclude early next year.
South Cumbria hate crime manager DS Mike Wallace said there were no immediate plans to amend the force's policy, but it was reviewed every 12 months and other potential categories were being considered.
He said: “We take a strong stance on any form of bullying. Just because something is not categorised as a hate crime we would still expect the same quality of investigation.
“If someone is being bullied because of their appearance I would want it investigated properly and I would urge them to contact us.
“It would be classed as an aggravating feature in a case.”