Tuesday 17 October 2017

Girl (14) hangs herself over school weight taunts

Rod Minchin in London

A 14-year-old girl suffering from an eating disorder after being bullied at school was found hanged at home, an inquest heard yesterday.

Schoolgirl Fiona Geraghty was being picked on because of her weight and felt "unwantable" among her peer group.

The teenager, who attended £5,910 (€7,330) a term King's College in Taunton as a day pupil, was developing bulimia because of her fears about her weight.

Fiona was found hanging on July 14 last year at home in Nailsbourne, near Taunton, by her father John Geraghty, a pathologist.

The hearing heard that after her father found her body he discovered a note Fiona had left in her bedroom. Details of the note were not disclosed at the inquest in Taunton.

Fiona's mother Elspeth Geraghty, a GP, told the inquest that Fiona had difficulty in settling in at school after starting there in September 2010.

She told the hearing she was first alerted to the possibility her daughter was suffering from bulimia when she was contacted by Fiona's housemistress in February last year.

"She said she had seen Fiona vomiting," she told the hearing.

Dr Geraghty said she was concerned because there was a history of eating disorders in their family and took Fiona to see their GP.

Vomiting

"Fiona said she started vomiting following taunts about her size," Dr Geraghty said.

The GP referred Fiona to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), where she saw Ross Gillanders, a community psychiatric nurse.

Fiona was seen by Mr Gillanders four times in April and May before being discharged.

Dr Geraghty said she and her husband were planning on moving Fiona and her older sister to Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire when Fiona died.

The court heard the cause of death was hanging. Toxicology tests came back negative for alcohol or drugs. The inquest also heard Fiona weighed around 60kg and had a body mass index (BMI) of 20.9.

CAMHS psychiatric nurse Mr Gillanders told the inquest that Fiona presented as someone suffering from 'disordered eating' rather than an eating disorder.

He said Fiona's weight had stabilised and some of the other problems she faced were being resolved. He had assessed Fiona as of "low risk" of suicide.

But Professor Bryan Lask, an emeritus professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, criticised the decision to discharge Fiona after just four sessions with a psychiatric nurse.

"I do not think her full clinical picture could be evident after just four sessions," Prof Lask told the inquest.

The hearing was adjourned.

Irish Independent

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