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Sunday 17 December 2017

Horror at suicide of 'loving and greatly loved' Milly (11)

Milly Tuomey (11) expressed a wish to die when she visited her GP two months before her suicide
Milly Tuomey (11) expressed a wish to die when she visited her GP two months before her suicide

An 11-year-old girl unhappy with her appearance posted on Instagram that she had chosen the date on which she would die.

A coroner returned a verdict of suicide at the inquest into the death of Milly Tuomey, from Templeogue, Dublin 6, who died on January 4 last year.

"Milly was loving and greatly loved, fit, healthy, connected, engaged and talented," her devastated parents Fiona and Tim Tuomey said in a statement after the inquest.

"When we discovered out of the blue that our child had told her friends on Instagram that she had chosen the day she would die, we couldn't believe it. We did not know what to do," they said.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that on November 3, 2015, Milly posted on Instagram to hundreds of friends that she intended to die on a certain date.

Her parents were alerted by her elder sister and her school.

They took Milly to see their GP and, during this visit, Milly expressed a death wish.

She spoke about thoughts of self-harm and said she had been unhappy with her appearance for several years.

The GP recommended she see a clinical psychologist at An Cuan, a private counselling and psychotherapy clinic.

The Tuomeys made an app- ointment, but the psychologist was no longer taking patients.

Milly was assigned to an art therapist, who was not qualified to make clinical assessments, the inquest heard.

Milly began a series of weekly appointments on November 24, 2015, and was encouraged to explore her emotions through verbal and visual means.

After Milly's first visit, the therapist advised Mrs Tuomey to make an appointment with the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Terrified

An appointment was made for January 30 last year, but this was brought forward after Mrs Tuomey found a 'suicide diary' along with medication, indicating an attempt at self-harm, under her daughter's bed.

"She'd cut herself and written in biro on herself, 'beautiful girls don't eat'," Mrs Tuomey told the court.

"We were terrified. We had no experience of this and no idea what to do."

The family were advised to go to their local emergency department if any concerns arose over Christmas or out of hours.

The court heard that, on January 1 last year, the Tuomeys ate dinner together and watched a film. That evening, Milly said she was bored and left the room.

She was found moments later in a critical condition and emergency services were called.

She was rushed to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, where she died on January 4.

Psychiatrist Dr Antoinette D'Alton told the court that children as young as seven had expressed suicidal ideation.

"Years ago this would have been unimaginable," she said.

"Now suicidal ideation is increasing in children as young as seven. There is a care pathway, but it is under-resourced."

Ireland ranks fifth in Eur-ope in cases of suicide among children aged 10 to 14, said Prof Ella Arensman, director of research at the National Suicide Research Foundation.

There had also been a "step-by-step increase" in instances of non-fatal self-harm among youngsters in that age group, she added.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane commended the Tuomeys for their decision to donate Milly's organs.

She noted comments from experts, who said further resources were required for child and adolescent mental health services and recommended that information be provided to families while they were waiting to be seen.

Mr and Mrs Tuomey said they discovered there were no clinical protocols for when a child has a mental health crisis.

"In 21st century Ireland, this is simply not acceptable," they said.

They had hopes and dreams for their daughter, and Milly had hopes and dreams.

In an excerpt from her diary, Milly wrote that she hoped to be a "famous doctor", get married and have children.

"When I am 23 I would like to have my first baby and when I'm 24 my second baby. If I have two girls I want to call them Vanessa and Grace Tuomey," she wrote.

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