Girl (11) posted on Instagram about intentions to die

Inquest told that suicidal ideation is on the rise among schoolchildren as young as seven

Milly posted a message on Instagram that she was unhappy with her appearance and wanted to die.

Milly posted a message on Instagram that she was unhappy with her appearance and wanted to die.

 

An 11-year-old girl took her own life weeks after posting a message on Instagram that she was unhappy with her appearance and wanted to die, an inquest in Dublin has heard.

Her parents, Fiona and Tim Tuomey, said in a statement after the inquest their daughter Milly, from Templeogue, Dublin, was a “fit, healthy and engaged” young girl.

“Milly was loving and greatly loved, fit, healthy, connected, engaged and talented,” the family 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.

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.

‘Suicide diary’

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 had also self-harmed and written in biro on herself “beautiful girls don’t eat”, Ms Tuomey told the inquest.

“We were terrified. We had no experience of this and no idea what to do,” she said.

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.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of suicide at the inquest.

‘Not acceptable’

The Tuomeys said afterwards they were unhappy at the lack of clinical protocols for children in a mental health crisis. “In 21st-century Ireland this is simply not acceptable.”

Psychiatrist Dr Antoinette D’Alton said suicidal ideation was on the rise among schoolchildren as young as seven.

“Years ago this would have been unimaginable,” Dr D’Alton said. “There is a care pathway but it is underresourced.”

Dr Tony Bates, founder of Jigsaw, a centre for youth mental health, said Milly’s story highlighted the need for appropriate, early intervention.

If you are affected by any of these issues, contact the Samaritans (116 123 or jo@samaritans.org) or the eating disorder association Bodywhys (1890 200 444 or alex@bodywhys.ie)