Tallulah Wilson inquest: Why did everyone miss warning signs before schoolgirl’s tragic suicide?
15:19 22 January 2014
How was it that everyone missed the warning signs before 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson took her own life under a train at St Pancras Station?
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Everyone who knew talented ballerina Tallulah Wilson was stunned by her death in October 2012. And on the third day of the inquest into her death, senior coroner for north London Mary Hassell, asked: “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?”
We look at the key factors in the case.
Self harm blogs: Tallulah’s mother, Sarah Wilson
The inquest into Tallulah’s death at St Pancras Coroner’s Court last week heard that she was obsessed with online blogs about suicide and often posted disturbing images of self-harm to her 18,000 followers.
When her mother discovered her internet activity, she had Tallulah’s account deleted, with her psychiatrist’s support, because she was concerned about the influence these dangerous blogs could have on a young girl.
“She said, mummy you don’t understand. I have 18,000 people who love me for who I am,” Ms Wilson told the jury.
“She went berserk. She was screaming, banging her head on the wall and pulling her hair. But I couldn’t let her carry on. She was brainwashed.”
Tallulah never discussed suicide with her mother and Ms Wilson did not think the schoolgirl would take her own life at the time of her death because she seemed to be getting better after moving to a new school, St Margaret’s in Kidderpore Avenue, Hampstead, the month before she died.
Mental state: Tallulah’s psychiatrist, Andy Weiner
Andy Wiener believed the church choir singer had mild depression at the time of her death, having been initially diagnosed with severe depression six months earlier.
He did not consider her to be a person at risk of suicide but rather a person at risk of self-harm. But he said Tallulah was impulsive and he told the jury that “being impulsive increases the risk”.
She took an overdose two weeks before her death but Dr Wiener considered this an act of self-harm and not a suicide attempt because Tallulah admitted what she had done to her mother.
Dr Wiener admitted that he underestimated the impact that deleting the Tallulah’s online blog would have on her, and speculated about whether she may have felt as if she had been “deleted” as well.
He told the inquest he has since undergone training and now better understands the role of the internet in young people’s lives.
He said he is now better equipped to help other distressed young people who spent a lot of time online.
Bullying: Tallulah’s former school, St Marylebone Church of England School in Marylebone
Tallulah told her grandmother before she died in the summer of 2011 that she was being bullied at her school, St Marylebone.
Her mother said the bullying had gone on for years because Tallulah wanted to become part of the largest friendship group at the school.
She said girls as young as 12 would post sexually explicit material on social media websites.
This content “traumatised” Tallulah, who was described by senior coroner for north London Mary Hassell as “very sensitive”.
Lindsay Anncock, head of inclusive education at St Marylebone, denied the schoolgirl had been bullied.
“I really can’t say that she was being bullied,” she told the jury. “I’m absolutely sure they were unkind to each other... but bullying is very specific, it’s persistent and it’s regular.”
The school has a zero tolerance policy for dealing with bullies but can only deal with specific incidents, Ms Annock told the jury.
She added that Tallulah was not a “shrinking violet” and could “give as good as she got”.
Tallulah was told not to come back to St Marylebone in May 2012 after showing a school nurse recent self-harming wounds.
Ms Anncock phoned her mother to tell her that the school “could no longer keep her safe and that it “wouldn’t be able to fulfil its duty of care”.