Girl, 14, killed herself three weeks after friend's suicide

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The Independent Online

A schoolgirl killed herself at the second attempt three weeks after her friend was found hanged, an inquest was told yesterday.

Jade Hughes, 14, left on her home computer a simple message to her friend that said, "Oh well, like I said, I will be with you soon", before walking to a railway bridge and killing herself.

An inquest in Swansea was told yesterday that Jade had been so depressed by Kirsty Botto's death that she had made her first suicide attempt on the night of the funeral. Kirsty, 13, had become friends with Jade when the older girl moved to Swansea in 2001 and joined Pentrehafod Comprehensive. The two were neighbours on the Landore estate.

On 17 March last year, Kirsty was found hanged in her bedroom. After the funeral, which was held nine days later, Jade attempted to emulate her friend, the coroner was told.

Detective Constable Philip Sparrow said: "After her mother had gone to bed, Jade tied one leg of her trousers around her neck and the other to a curtain rail. But the knot slipped and she crashed to the floor." The noise woke her mother, Lynn, 38, who went to investigate and found a suicide note in Jade's bedroom.

The girl was sent to a child psychiatrist and the family felt she had improved after a short family holiday in Cornwall.

But on 11 April, after an evening drinking cider and wine in a park with friends, she returned home only long enough to write her note to Kirsty and to search the internet for "death suicide poems".

She then rejoined her friends before leaving them and hanging herself by her jumper. She was found just after a midnight by a couple out walking. By her side was her mobile phone, which her mother had been ringing repeatedly since discovering her missing. On it police found a text message from the schoolgirl that read: "Didn't have time to write a note. Love you all."

As an officer read the note, the telephone rang and he answered it to find Jade's frantic mother asking about her daughter. All he could say was that someone would call on her shortly, he said.

"Kirsty committed suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom. This upset Jade and her friends. But there was no evidence of a suicide pact," said Det Con Sparrow.

Previous reports suggested the deaths were part of a chain of events that began when a friend of Kirsty's ­ Ross Hooper, 13 ­ died from sniffing butane gas in a Swansea car park. Others said the girls had been bullied. After Kirsty's death, her mother, Angela Roper, said: "Ross was one of her best friends and she never got over him. She used to talk to me about it and get upset."

After the Swansea and Gower coroner, Richard Morgan, recorded a verdict of suicide Jade's mother denied that she had been bullied at school. Mrs Hughes praised her "beautiful, kind-hearted daughter" who, she said, had developed a depressive illness. The teenager, who was born in Truro, Cornwall, had a history of self-harm going back to the age of 11.

The inquest was told that she had gone through a "Gothic" period when she became obsessed with death and spent a lot of time at a local cemetery. Det Con Sparrow said that as a result of domestic violence at home when she was younger, Jade had not seen her father for six or seven years. She had moved to Swansea with her mother, where she attended four schools as the family moved around the city.