Suicide blamed on 'thin models'
The fashion industry was yesterday blamed by a coroner for the death of a schoolgirl who was found hanged after suffering from an eating disorder.
Michael Rose, the West Somerset Coroner, called on magazines and catwalks to stop using thin models after Fiona Geraghty was found dead at her home, near Taunton, last year.
The 14-year-old public schoolgirl had been suffering from bulimia and had confided in health staff that she had been taunted by other girls at King's College in Taunton because of her weight.
After Mr Rose recorded a verdict of misadventure, he launched a broadside at the fashion industry.
"The one class of person not here who I feel directly responsible for what happened is the fashion industry," he said.
"I know this from my own experience, that the problems of eating disorders amongst young people, particularly girls, did not exist before the 1970s.
"From that period onwards the fashion industry and the magazines promoted thin models and the thin figure. I do ask, particularly the magazines in the fashion industry, to stop publishing photographs of wafer-thin girls.
"One magazine, I believe 'Vogue', has recently taken the decision not to do so. I do implore it, because at the end of the day for their benefit, families like this must suffer.
"It is, I am afraid, an increasing problem and until they control themselves it will continue."
Fiona's mother, Dr Elspeth Geraghty, a GP, said her daughter had moved to King's College in September 2010 from its prep school and was having problems settling in.
"The transfer didn't go as smoothly as hoped as there were some relationship issues with the girls in the peer group, particularly one other girl," she said. "She started vomiting after taunts from other girls about her size."
Fiona's parents were first alerted to their daughter's possible eating disorder by staff at the school after she was caught gorging on crisps and chocolate and then purging herself.
Dr Geraghty took Fiona to see their family GP. They made a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services team (CAMHS) in Taunton, run by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The doctor's letter, which was disclosed to the inquest in Taunton, stated: "She says she started doing this following a number of taunts from girls because she is fat."
King's College headmaster Richard Biggs maintained there was not a problem with bullying at the school.
The coroner supported the school's view and, in a lengthy summary of the evidence, said children often do have difficulties settling into a public school after moving from prep school.
Fiona was found dead at home in Nailsbourne, near Somerset, on July 14 last year by her father, Dr John Geraghty.