Warrington – A girl of 12 who wrote RIP on her heel before killing herself was emotionally overwhelmed by social media and did not have the ‘skills to cope’, a coroner said.
An inquest heard that on the night she died, Jessica Scatterson – who claimed she was bullied online – had posted a picture of her foot and a list of reasons why she should kill herself. Friends alerted police, and when officers raced to her home and woke her father, he discovered she had hanged herself in her bedroom surrounded by cuddly toys.
A suicide note included the name of Jessica’s alleged bullies while abusive messages were later discovered on her iPad.
Alan Moore, senior coroner for Cheshire, said he agreed with comments by Wendy Walsh, an emotional wellbeing co-ordinator at Penketh High School in Warrington, where Jessica was a pupil, who gave evidence about the youngster’s social media use. He said: “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.”
Delivering a verdict of suicide, Mr Moore added: “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 build-up to her death, cannot have failed to have influenced her thinking, her state of mind and her intentions.”
Jessica’s father Christopher, 41, spoke to police from an upstairs window when he was woken at home on April 22, 2017 before officers heard a “loud scream” from inside.
Sergeant Ross Dryden, of Cheshire police, told the hearing he tried to resuscitate Jessica, who would have turned 13 two days later, until paramedics arrived. She was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police launched an investigation and discovered an incident “relating to Jessica being bullied at school” in 2016, which left her with a scratched face and a swollen eye. But it was unclear who had started the fight so no action was taken. Staff admitted there had been some name-calling and fall-outs with friends, but denied it amounted to bullying.
The court heard Jessica had spoken to teachers about her difficult home life. Learning mentor Sarah Baron revealed Jessica had been worried about her father, because he would “sometimes come home from work, go to his room and cry”. She said: “Jessica just seemed like a child who was taking too much on.”