A 12-year-old schoolgirl who killed herself was “emotionally overwhelmed” and influenced by her intense use of social media, a coroner has said.
Jessica Scatterson, from Dallam in Warrington, was discovered in her bedroom, surrounded by soft toys and with “RIP” written on her heel, two days before her 13th birthday in April 2017.
She was allegedly bullied at school and struggled to cope with the pressures of social media, an inquest heard.
Recording a verdict of suicide, the senior coroner for Cheshire, Alan Moore, said: “It is clear to me that Jessica must have felt emotionally overwhelmed at the time she took her own life. The level and the intensity of her activity on social media platforms, particularly in the buildup to her death, cannot have failed to have influenced her thinking, her state of mind.”
Police found disturbing messages and drawings in Jessica’s room, including references to suicide and death.
Jessica’s friends had alerted police after seeing harrowing messages on her social media in the early hours of 22 April. She had posted a picture of her foot and a list of reasons why she should kill herself, the inquest heard.
Her father, Christopher, 41, was woken by officers and spoke to them from an upstairs window before they heard a scream from inside. Sgt Ross Dryden, of Cheshire police, told the inquest he tried to resuscitate Jessica until paramedics arrived but she was later pronounced dead.
Jessica named her alleged bullies in a suicide note, and abusive messages were discovered on her iPad.
In April 2016 there had been an alleged incident “relating to Jessica being bullied at school”, the inquest heard. Jessica had come home with scratches on her face and a swollen eye after arguing with another girl, Insp Hannah Friend said. The incident was reported to police but no action was taken as it was unclear who had started the fight.
Staff at Penketh high school in Warrington told the inquest that Jessica had fallouts with friends but claimed it did not amount to bullying.
Moore said he agreed with the words of Wendy Walsh, an emotional wellbeing coordinator at the school who had given evidence during the inquest about the schoolgirl’s social media use.
“She said: ‘The pressures young people are under are extraordinary. Young people don’t have the skills to cope with such overwhelming emotions.’ Those were her words and I echo that,” he said.
In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.