Girl, 16, found hanged after suffering anxiety and being bullied on social media

A schoolgirl hanged herself at home after suffering bouts of anxiety due to being bullied, an inquest heard.

Sian Waterhouse was a "bubbly" teenager before getting a mobile phone for Christmas and becoming a regular user of Facebook and Snapchat.

The 16-year-old was struggling with fallouts with friends in the weeks before her death.

Following an episode of self harm, the teenager was given counselling by mental health experts and was advised to block former friends on social media.

But despite appearing to get better, Sian was said to be in a "dark place" and told one doctor: "I feel like my heart is sinking."

As she prepared for her mock GCSEs following a Sunday afternoon shopping trip in February last year, Sian left a handwitten note on her dining table and was subsequently found hanged at her home in Morecambe, Lancs, by her stepfather.

She died two days later in hospital and her organs were donated to help save the lives of others.

The hearing was told Sian had been a "bubbly, fun loving" teenager who lived in a normal childhood until she was given the phone as a present.

Later there was a fall out amongst friends and Sian who attended Morecambe Community High School was admitted to hospital in 2017 after harming herself.

She was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) but was discharged just before her 16th birthday.

Her stepfather Phillip Noyland said: "She was a normal child who loved school and was interested in everything. She was always having fun and laughing and joking. She was fine until she got a mobile phone for Christmas, she was always on it.

"After her first episode of self harm she started engaging with the CAHMS team and was doing well.

"Her counsellor often said how well she was doing. There was a small bout of superficial self-harming but she seemed to be in a much better place and more like her old self, she had gone back to school.

"Just before Christmas 2017 she had a fainting episode and at that time she was told that she was too old to get back in touch with the CAHMS team, she was put on medication and started on a mild dose of antidepressants.

"But leading up to February 2018, there were some issues with some other children over bullying. On February 18 Sian went to Preston with a friend and got home in the afternoon. She seemed fine and was looking forward to her friend’s party the following Saturday.

"I checked on her a couple times and everything seemed fine, she was making tea for her and friend. I was in bed later that evening when I heard the back door shut and what I thought was Sian coming upstairs.

"I texted to see if she was ok and had no response. I went down to check on her and on the dining table and there was a note and I saw her."

Sian’s mother Ann said: "Before the first time she self harmed, she showed no indication of any depressive episodes or self-harm. She was looking forward to attending her school prom and this seemed to be a goal for her.

"There was period of time when she was in a dark place, but she worked with the CAMHS team. There was another episodes of superficial self harming after her 16th birthday and I was told she would have to work with Mind Matters as she was too old to get help from the CAMHS team.

"I became aware that there were issues with friendships and who she hung around with.

"There was the problem of being friends and not friends. There were also some issues with some bullying and I told her to block their numbers from her phone and as far as I was aware she did.

"On February 18, Sian went to Preston with a friend but she was a little anxious about those people who were related to the bullying.

"I told her her to call the police if anything happened but she called me in the afternoon and seemed in a good mood and happy. She said she had bought some new clothes for a friend’s party the following week.

"I collected her at around 3.30pm and she said she would try the new clothes on for me to see. I was going out for the evening and left at around 6pm and I encouraged her to do some revision for her upcoming mock exams.

"I called her on the phone that evening and she sounded a bit down but said that she was alright – then Phillip found her."

In a statement Sian’s father Paul Waterhouse said he believed Sian "might have fallen into the wrong crowd" whilst at high school.

He added: "She had a bright bubbly personality but people are great at hiding their conditions. She was a typical teenage girl, she had a number of close friends and friends who were in and out of friendships.

"An event in 2017 with a young lad troubled Sian but there were no signs that she was feeling low or depressed so when I heard about what happened it was a complete surprise."

Det Sgt Sam Johnson of Lancashire Police said Sian’s phone was examined and said: "A lot of this is typical teenage behaviour but it was understood she had been bullied in the past. There was a lot of use of social media such as Snapchat and Facebook.

"But there were no messages to attribute how she was feeling that evening or any messages to suggest that she was being driven by the content of those messages. There were no suspicious circumstances or criminal activity."

Sian’s GP Dr Irfan Zafar said: "On 12 December, there was bullying going on in the background, the patient had fallen out with friends and circumstances led to her feeling this way.

"A discussion was had with patient and her mum, she was feeling distressed, anxious and there was an element of low moods, she was crying.

"She had also been cutting herself. She said she felt like her heart was sinking. We discussed options, the option of counselling and the option of anti depressants which were prescribed to people over the age of 16.

"We decided to go with both and I gave her information about Mind Matters. At the consultation on January 3 with the patient and her mum she seemed better in herself, she had more good days, she had been going out more with friends and her mum said she had been talking more.

"She was encouraged the tablets were working and there were no side effects."

Susan Lingwood, a mental health services counsellor, said: "There were several factors that contributed to the way she was feeling including peer relationships and bullying. I met regularly with her and she started to improve.

"She made changes with her friends and her relationships improved and she was discharged on June 6 2017.

"I recall seeing Sian that summer with her mum and they both said that things were going well and she was working towards her GCSEs in the summer of 2018."

Recording a narrative conclusion, coroner James Newman told Sian’s family: "I cannot imagine how difficult this has been for you all today.

"Sian was a bubbly, fun and happy young woman but was undoubtedly hit by mental health issues which are one of the greatest issues of our time.

"She engaged through the whole course with CAMHS and made improvements, she was preparing for mock exams and had a goal of going to her prom, this is what she was aiming towards.

"She had one episode of significant self harm and was referred to child mental health services and engaged thoroughly in the process.

"In late 2017 after turning 16 she had something of a relapse and was prescribed anti depressant. On that day she appeared in good spirits and appeared well and happy.

"She has been described as a very loving, happy and friendly 16 year old girl – a 16 year old girl going through all of the troubles a normal teenager would go through, but given her sensitive nature she felt it more than others."

Following her death, Sian’s family organised a music event entitled ‘Shine for Sian’ to raise awareness of mental health.

If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org

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