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Tallulah Wilson inquest: Coroner asks ‘how could everybody have got this so wrong’ over death of teenage ballerina under train

Coroner Mary Hassell oversaw the hearing into the death of West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson Coroner Mary Hassell oversaw the hearing into the death of West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson

Thursday, January 23, 2014
4:00 AM

A coroner overseeing a hearing into the death of a teenage ballerina who jumped under a train asked “how could it be that everybody got this so wrong” as a psychiatrist revealed the 15-year-old only had mild depression before she died.

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West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson, 15, died after jumping under a train at St Pancras Station in October 2012. A jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court yesterday concluded Tallulah killed herselfWest Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson, 15, died after jumping under a train at St Pancras Station in October 2012. A jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court yesterday concluded Tallulah killed herself

Child psychiatrist Andy Wiener, of the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust in Belsize Park, had weekly sessions with West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson in the six months before she died jumping under a train at St Pancras Station in October 2012.

He told an inquest last Wednesday that he did not believe she was a suicide risk at the time of her death and that Tallulah’s actions were a result of impulsive behaviour rather than depression.

“The big risk for suicide is feeling hopeless,” Dr Wiener, associate clinical director of Tavistock Clinic in Belsize Lane, told the jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court last week.

“You don’t feel any hope for the future if you are depressed. I think she did have hope.

"Nobody has said this was going to happen or said, I thought she was about to take her life. Everybody was absolutely shocked. How could it be that everybody got this so wrong?"

Mary Hassell, senior coroner for north London

“The other one is being impulsive, and being impulsive increases the risk.

“She was impulsive, and she was so impulsive that she went for it.”

Senior coroner for north London, Mary Hassell, said: “Nobody has said this was going to happen or said, I thought she was about to take her life.

“Everybody was absolutely shocked. How could it be that everybody got this so wrong?”

Tallulah had moved to all-girls St Margaret’s School in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead in the month before her death.

Brendan Benson, her form tutor at St Margaret’s, said Tallulah seemed to settle in well at the independent school after she moved from St Marylebone Church of England School.

But he told the court that with hindsight the talented ballerina probably had a “rich interior life” that she kept hidden from everyone else.

On the first day of the inquest, Tallulah’s mother Sarah Wilson told the court that her daughter was “addicted” to self-harm and suicide blogs on a blogging website.

Tallulah, who was once headhunted by the Royal Ballet School, created a fantasy account portraying herself as a cocaine-taking anorexic for her 18,000 followers and would post photos of self-harm wounds, apparently her own.

She also filled pages of her journals with the words “fat”, “ugly” and “worthless”, which she would then photograph and post on her online blog.

Ms Wilson discovered her daughter’s online life just days before her death and contacted the website to have the account deleted.

Dr Wiener admitted last Wednesday that he underestimated how much of an impact deleting the account would have on Tallulah.

He speculated about whether she may have felt as if she had also been “deleted” when her account was disabled.

“She went berserk,” Tallulah’s mother told the jury. “She was screaming, banging her head on the wall and pulling her hair. But I couldn’t let her carry on. She was brainwashed.”

The jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court yesterday returned a narrative conclusion and found the teenage ballerina killed herself.

The jury highlighted that an online life is important to young people and said that both health professionals and educators should work to gain a better understanding of their online world.

* The Samaritans provide confidential emotional support to anyone in crisis, around the clock, every day of the year. You can contact the Samaritans by calling 08457 90 90 90 or visiting your local branch.

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