Girl, 16, jumps to death after warning of suicide

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The Independent Online
JOHN McKIE and REBECCA FOWLER

A 16-year-old schoolgirl jumped to her death only hours after a previous suicide attempt in which she had been rescued from beneath a train.

Jessica O'Riordan died instantly on Tuesday night when she jumped from the fourth floor of the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth. The day before she had thrown herself on to railway tracks at Southampton station but survived because she fell between the wheels of a moving train.

She was taken immediately to the city's general hospital where she was seen by a doctor but then discharged into the care of her mother, a social worker, who took her home to Totton, just outside the city.

The next evening, she went to Bournemouth, with her friend Sally Smith, 19, to see a concert by the pop band Pulp.

After the concert, she climbed up the fire escape of the hotel and jumped off. Ms Smith was found by hotel staff next to her body in a hysterical state.

On Monday evening, before Jessica's first suicide attempt, the two girls were spotted sitting on the toll bridge over the river Itchen, and were driven to safety by a policewoman, who had not realised Jessica was distressed.

"They seemed very happy, and in no way suicidal," the policewoman said. "We even spoke about the subject, and one of them told me she would never kill herself because she loved her mum and wouldn't do that to her."

Last night, there was growing concern over why social services were not called in after Jessica's first suicide attempt.

Hampshire County Council, which was not contacted, said it was normal practice for social services to be involved in such cases.

"We'd always take any report of suicide very seriously, particularly so in the case of a teenager," said a spokesman.

The hospital denied it had released Jessica too quickly. "Given the circumstances we're satisfied the doctors concerned acted quite properly and in consultation with the family," said a spokeswoman.

Jessica's death stunned friends and teachers at Hounsdown School, Totton, South-ampton, where she was in her final year studying for GCSEs. Her classmates broke down in tears when the news of her death was announced at a special assembly, and were offered bereavement counselling.

"Jessica was an intelligent and talented pupil, who clearly had a promising future, and as with the death of any young person it's hard for everyone to come to terms with such a tragedy," said Mark Gibbons, head teacher.

"Our thoughts at this time are particularly focused on Jessica's family."

Jessica's mother and two older sisters were being comforted at their home yesterday.

Her sister, Josie, said: "My mother is devastated by this. We are trying to think why Jessie did it. She had no history of depression."

An inquest will be held.

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