North East Wales

Laura Newlands' suicide prompts concerns over social services

Laura Newlands

The death of a teenage girl who took a fatal overdose has prompted a coroner to write to Denbighshire council about concerns over its social services.

Laura Newlands, from Rhyl, died at home on 8 August 2011.

The Ruthin inquest heard social services had closed her case when she was released into the care of relatives in Doncaster, and had delayed setting up a meeting when she returned to Rhyl.

Coroner John Gittins recorded a conclusion of suicide.

The inquest was told Laura had been a carer for her parents and "the older she got the greater the sense of responsibility she felt".

Referring to problems of bullying at school, Mr Gittins said she was "well supported" at Rhyl High School, adding that staff gave her "an exceptional level of support".

'Articulate young girl'

The inquest was told she had "suicidal feelings" and after spending five days in hospital in May 2011 went to live with relatives in Doncaster.

But they, nor her family, had been told she had threatened to kill herself if she was sent back to her family home.

In June, she returned to Rhyl by choice to celebrate her brother's birthday and stayed there until taking an overdose with her father's medication.

Referring to social services closing her case, Mr Gittins said he believed it should be assessed by a qualified senior member of staff, not involved in the case, before it was closed.

He also said there should be a strict timetable in place for meetings "to help people in crisis", after the inquest heard social services had been in contact with Laura after she returned to Rhyl.

Thorough investigation

The coroner offered his condolences to the family on the loss of a "bright, articulate young girl".

The family's lawyers said in a statement: "The family would like to thank the coroner for conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading up to her death and they feel that we finally have some answers as to what happened.

"They hope that any improvements that can be made are identified to prevent others from suffering as Laura did."

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