Schoolgirl found hanged 'was bullying victim'

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The Independent Online

Claims that a teenage girl found hanged at her home on a remote Scottish farm was bullied at school were being investigated yesterday.

Marianne Shanks, 15, apparently killed herself after telling friends that she was going to "another place".

The pupil at Dundee High School was found hanging from the rafters of an outbuilding in her family's farmyard near Inchture, Perthshire, by her father on Sunday night. Minutes earlier, she had told him she was going for a walk and "loved him very much".

A spokesman for Tayside Police said yesterday that they were investigating claims that Marianne had been the victim of a campaign of verbal abuse at school, which may have driven her to take her life.

Inspector Gordon Nicoll said: "I wouldn't want to comment specifically whether bullying was a factor or not, but it will certainly form part of our inquiry."

Hours before her death, Marianne received an e-mail from a schoolfriend asking if she would be at school hockey practice on Monday. Marianne wrote back to say: "No, I shall be in another place."

Police have removed the computer to search for further clues as to why the bright and popular schoolgirl apparently killed herself.

At the family home yesterday her father, David, 47, her mother, Dorothy, 46, and her brothers Robert, 17, and Alexander,14, were being comforted by relatives.

"We are devastated at the loss of our only daughter, Marianne Elizabeth, who brought so much happiness to the family in the time that we shared with her," they said in a statement. "It is a very difficult time and we would ask that members of the media would allow us to grieve in private."

Staff and pupils at Dundee High School said they were devastated. "Our thoughts are with the family," said a spokeswoman, who stressed that the co-educational independent school operated a tough anti-bullying policy for its 1,096 pupils.

A Tayside Police spokeswoman stressed there were no suspicious circumstances and said a report would be submitted to the procurator fiscal.