Isabel Ann Richardson, 12, from Norwich, tried to cope with her mother’s death from breast cancer. Her brother told her father that she posted distressing images on Instagram. She had been described as a “happy, funny” girl previously, and as a hard-working, pleasant, and polite student by her teachers. But she had difficulty dealing with her mother’s death, even telling a school nurse that she now felt “worthless,” according to Metro.
After her mother, Karina Richardson, 37, died four years ago, Isabel started to self-harm. On May 12, she was discovered by her father, Stephen, 48, hanging in her bedroom. She died six days later in the hospital, the Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard.
The coroner, Jacqueline Lake, was not sure whether Isabel meant to kill herself or whether it was a cry for help. Isabel had been referred to a bereavement charity and was scheduled to see a counselor. Unfortunately, she died before receiving that help. Coroner Lake was concerned about how much support the girl got from her school, the Hewett School in Norwich, especially since she had problems. She stated, “I place no blame on any individual, however I am concerned about the robustness of the pastoral care at the Hewett for supporting pupils, particularly when it is known they have problems.” Isabel told the school’s pastoral staff that she self-harmed because she “missed her mum,” according to the Daily Mail. The coroner listed the cause of death as brain injury, cardiac arrest, and hanging.
When her father questioned Isabel about self-harming, she stated that she had stopped. Stephen Richardson believed her because “Isabel seemed a lot better since the meetings at school.” He assumed that she was listening to music in her room on the fateful day she hanged herself. When her brother informed Stephen about pictures she posted of herself self-harming, he ran upstairs to her room and found her body hanging. He couldn’t believe that she would take her own life, and stated the following.
“I never thought for a second she would do anything like take her own life. I will always think I could have done more.”
In response to the coroner at the inquest, Hewett School headmaster Tom Leverage said that he would determine if things could be improved at the school for students in need. He stated, “The welfare of students is always uppermost in our concerns and we will carefully consider the coroner’s comments….We already take pastoral care very seriously but if there are things we can improve, we will.”
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