Leeds & West Yorkshire

Ursula Keogh suicide: Girl, 11, 'intended to kill herself'

Ursula Keogh Image copyright Keogh family
Image caption Ursula Keogh's body was found in Hebble Brook

An 11-year-old girl killed herself after getting off a school bus and sending her mother a text message saying: "I love you but so sorry."

Ursula Keogh, 11, from Halifax, got off the bus home near a bridge over a river on 22 January, an inquest heard.

Her body was found three hours later just over a mile (2km) downstream.

Her mother had felt "fobbed off" as she tried to get support for Ursula, the coroner said. There was evidence she intended to kill herself, he said.

Coroner Martin Fleming said it was a "desperately sad case" and warned "communication difficulties needed to be ironed out" between youth support services.

Emotional wellbeing

The inquest in Bradford heard Ursula had a history of self-harming, had recently started at a new school and her mother, Nicky Harlow, had separated from Ursula's father.

In late 2017, Ms Harlow spoke to her GP twice about concerns over her daughter's emotional wellbeing, but no face to face appointment took place.

The coroner said Ms Harlow felt "fobbed off" after GPs told her to seek advice from her school, Lightcliffe Academy, with the school advising them to go to the doctors.

Addressing Halifax GP Dr Steven Cleasby, the coroner said: "It sounds to me that we've got communication difficulties that need to be ironed out, would you agree?"

The doctor agreed.

'Very bright'

The inquest was told the youngster had a positive appointment with a Relate counsellor in January and that Lightcliffe Academy did help provide her with some emotional support.

A statement from Ursula's mother, which was read out at the inquest, described how her daughter had wanted to become a teacher.

She was "very bright for her age" and felt her friends were "in a bubble of childhood" and she was not, said Ms Harlow.

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The coroner said Ursula had a circle of friends in school and there was no evidence to suggest she was being bullied.

Image caption Ursula was a pupil at Lightcliffe Academy secondary school

A police officer told the inquest Ursula got off the bus from school "a stop early" near North Bridge, Halifax.

A short time later, passers by found her school bag and phone on the bridge. Her mother had received the text message and called the police.

After a major search, her body was discovered in Hebble Brook in the Paris Gates area of the town.

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