Girl (11) posted on Instagram about her intentions to die
Inquest hears Milly Tuomey from Templeogue, Dublin died on January 4th last year
Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that on November 3rd, 2015, Milly posted on Instagram to hundreds of friends about her intention to die on a certain date.
An 11-year-old girl who was unhappy with her physical appearance posted on her Instagram account that she intended to die, an inquest in Dublin has heard.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of suicide at the inquest into the death of Milly Tuomey from Templeogue, Dublin, who died on January 4th last year.
“Milly was loving and greatly loved, fit, healthy, connected, engaged and talented,” her parents Fiona and Tim Tuomey said in a statement after the inquest.
“When we discovered out of the blue that our child had told her friends on Instagram that she had chosen the day she would die, we couldn’t believe it. We did not know what to do,” they said.
Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that on November 3rd, 2015, Milly posted on Instagram to hundreds of friends about her intention to die on a certain date. Her parents were alerted by her elder sister and her school.
They took Milly to see their GP and during this visit Milly expressed a death wish. She spoke about thoughts of self-harm and said she had been unhappy with her physical appearance for a number of years. The GP recommended she see a clinical psychologist at An Cuan, a private counselling and psychotherapy clinic.
The Tuomeys made an appointment but the psychologist was no longer taking patients. Milly was assigned to an art therapist, who was not qualified to make clinical assessments, the inquest heard.
The child began a series of weekly appointments on November 24th, 2015, at which she was encouraged to explore her emotions through verbal and visual means.
After Milly’s first visit, the therapist advised Mrs Tuomey to make an appointment with the HSE’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. An appointment was made for January 30th, 2016, but this was brought forward after Mrs Twomey found a “suicide diary” along with medication indicating an attempt at self harm under her daughter’s bed.
“She’d cut herself and written in biro on herself, ‘beautiful girls don’t eat’,” Mrs Tuomey told the inquest. “We were terrified. We had no experience of this and no idea what to do.”
The family was advised to go to their local hospital emergency department if any concerns arose over Christmas or out of hours.
The court heard that on January 1st, 2016, the family had dinner together and watched a film. That evening, Milly declared she was bored and left the room. She was found moments later in a critical condition and emergency services were called. She was taken to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital where she died on January 4th.
Psychiatrist Dr Antoinette D’Alton told the inquest that Irish children as young as seven have expressed suicidal ideation.
“Years ago this would have been unimaginable. Now, suicidal ideation is increasing in children as young as seven. There is a care pathway but it is under-resourced,” Dr D’Alton said.
Ireland currently ranks fifth in Europe in cases of suicide in the 10-14 age group and the past decade has seen a “step-by-step increase” in instances of non-fatal self-harm among 10 to 14-year-olds, according to director of research at the National Suicide Research Foundation, Prof Ella Arensman.
The coroner commended the Tuomeys for their decision to donate their daughter’s organs. Dr Cullinane noted comments from experts who stated further resources were required for child and adolescent mental health services and recommended the provision of information to support parents and families while they waited to be seen by services.
In their statement, the family said they discovered there are no clinical protocols for when a child has a mental health crisis. “In 21st-century Ireland this is simply not acceptable.”
They had hopes and dreams for their daughter, and Milly had hopes and dreams for herself, they said. In an excerpt from her diary, Milly wrote how she hoped to be a “famous doctor”, get married and have children.
“When I am 23 I would like to have my first baby and when I’m 24 my second baby. If I have two girls I want to call them Vanessa and Grace Tuomey,” she wrote.