Schoolgirl killed herself after 'phone bullying'

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The Independent Online

A schoolgirl killed herself after being bombarded with anonymous calls on her mobile phone, an inquest was told yesterday.

A schoolgirl killed herself after being bombarded with anonymous calls on her mobile phone, an inquest was told yesterday.

Gail Jones, 15, was found dead on 4 May at her home in Tranmere, Merseyside, after months of silent calls. She had taken between 22 and 27 paracetamol tablets.

An inquest into her death at Wallasey Coroner's Court was told that she left several text messages on her phone informing her family that she was about to kill herself. The Wirral coroner, Christopher Johnson, recorded a verdict that she took her own life.

Glyn Jones, Gail's father, said the anonymous calls had "really got to her". He went on: "They were awful. Sometimes she would get as many as 20 in just half an hour. They would ring and ring but each time she picked up the phone they hung up or just stayed quiet on the other end of the line ...

"[She] seemed her normal self on the day she died. We can only guess she got another call in the middle of the night and it pushed her over the edge."

Liz Carnell, director of bullying online, a website that has received 3,600 e-mail messages since it was established 18 months ago, said Gail's death reflected an increasing number of calls reporting "mobile phone bullying".

Ms Carnell said the problem was virtually unheard of before last Christmas, when many children received phones as presents. "Then we started having children who find a message had been sent, expect it to be from their friends and discover abuse there instead," she said. "I've even heard of somebody receiving death threats. Abusive calls are even more common."

The website - www.bullyingonline.co.uk - warns children to "be careful who you give your number to" and urges them to tell their parents if they receive threatening phone calls or e-mails.

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