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Taunton teenager 'killed herself following weight taunts' - inquest
5:48pm Tuesday 19th June 2012 in News
A HIGH achieving student hanged herself after being bullied over her weight at her school in Taunton, an inquest heard.
Fiona Geraghty, 14, developed an eating disorder after girls taunted her about her weight and later received treatment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
The King’s College student was found by her father John, a pathologist, at their home in Nailsbourne on July 14. It is understood she left a note.
Her mother, a GP, said she felt Fiona had been let down by the school and the mental health service.
Giving evidence at the hearing, Dr Elspeth Geraghty said: “I feel horribly let down by CAMHS, who I believe totally underestimated the intensity of Fiona’s psychiatric condition.”
The headteacher of King's College is due to give evidence on the final day of the inquest tomorrow.
West Somerset Coroner's Court heard Fiona had been happy until she moved from King’s Hall to King’s College in September 2010, where she was isolated by a group of ten girls in her house.
Dr Geraghty said: “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 added: “She started vomiting after taunts from other girls about her size.”
At one point her 17-year-old sister Alice, who also suffered an eating disorder, got involved to support her sister. The school also intervened.
Dr Geraghty was told by a housemistress that Fiona may have an eating disorder in February 2011.
She said she was concerned about the school environment because other girls had eating disorders there and they decided to remove her.
Fiona, who her mother described as having a poor self body image and a fear of puberty, was referred to CAMHS by her doctor.
But after only four sessions mental health nurse Ross Gillanders said he saw an improvement and discharged her on May 31, 2011.
Speaking on the first day of the inquest in Taunton, he said she did not appear to be at risk of committing suicide, and on a scale of one to ten, put her at one.
He admitted in hindsight the matter had been more serious than it had ‘presented itself’. Two weeks after she was discharged, just four weeks before her death, Fiona wrote a school essay about a girl dealing with weight issues.
Consultant child psychiatrist Professor Bryan Lask told the court: “The essay is a clear clue of the suffering she was going through. It is regrettable notice was not taken.”
GP Geraghty said the school should have told her about the essay and Mr Gillanders said he would have called Fiona back for treatment had he known.
In a statement, King’s College headmaster Richard Biggs said: “Our thoughts are very much with the Geraghty family at this difficult time. Fiona was a charming, talented and lively girl, who lit up our school.
“She is deeply missed by her many friends here, especially those who were in her year group and those who shared her love of sport and of singing.
“Our housemasters, housemistresses, the chaplain and other members of staff are ready to support any members of the school community for whom the inquest has triggered memories of their loss.”
The school said it would make further comment once the outcome of the inquest is known. The inquest will continue tomorrow.
To read responses from CAMHS, click on the Related Links on this page.
Anyone who feels in need of support or advice may contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org