A 13-year-old bisexual schoolgirl hanged herself in woodland after splitting up with her girlfriend and becoming convinced that everyone hated her. Sophie Clark, from Dorset, told her father that she was going for a walk one evening and didn’t return home. After he reported her missing, a member of the public found her hanged the next morning. Dr Zoe Ellison-Wright, a consultant psychiatrist, told the inquest Sophie had a history of mental health issues, self harm, and had previously tried to kill herself in March 2016 with an overdose of paracetamol and ibuprofen. The suicide attempt was triggered by the ending of a relationship which worsened the already low mood of Sophie, who described herself as bisexual or pansexual. The inquest heard, that as well as a girlfriend, the teen had also previously had a boyfriend, before the couple eventually broke up. ‘She described pent up feelings and small things made her feel angry,’ Ms Ellison-Wright added. ‘She said she felt it difficult to concentrate and felt her school grades were dropping she described felling insecure about her body image.
‘She said most days she would cut her arms legs and stomach and said it had become an addiction and helped her calm down. ‘She had thoughts she would be better off dead because then the pain would go away she thought everyone hated her, including her friends but acknowledged there was no real evidence for this.’ A few months later, in June, Sophie said she was going for a walk at around 6.30pm. Her worried father contacted the police after 11pm to report her missing and officers began a hunt for the schoolgirl. The search proved fruitless as efforts to trace her phone signal failed but early the next morning a member of the public, Martin Walker, contacted police to say he had found a young girl hanging in woodland near Sophie’s home in Sherborne, Dorset. Detective Constable Simon Bond told Bournemouth Coroner’s Court: ‘Officers attended the scene first at 9.16am. The officers located the initial informant and located the female as described. ‘Ambulance officers also attended and gave confirmation of death at 9.35am that day. ‘The area the deceased was found in was shielded from public view by dense foliage. ‘There are no properties that looked directly onto it. However cordons were set up so the deceased and her dignity were preserved.’ Sophie was formally identified by her father, James Clark, who had last seen her the previous evening when she told him she was going for a walk.
The inquest heard that Sophie had spoken with a school friend on the social media website Facebook shortly before she went missing and told her she intended to harm herself. The friend had seen Sophie at school that day but did not notice anything unusual about her. A post-mortem examination found drugs in her bloodstream. The report recorded the cause of death as pressure on the neck. Ms Ellison-Wright said Sophie’s mother had died when she was aged three years and felt although she was reluctant to talk about it this was having an effect on her. ‘She said she didn’t think her mother’s death really affected her,’ she said. ‘She was three at the time. It was very early days in getting to know her, she talked about some things but there were other things she was just getting relaxed about talking about. ‘I think there was an element of grief of her mother dying. I think she wasn’t ready to talk about it yet but she was beginning to.’ A report from Nikki Edwards, deputy headteacher at the Gryphon School Sophie attended, said Sophie had spent large amounts of time in New Zealand with her father and his partner, Eva. It said: ‘Sophie has travelled back and forth from New Zealand. She attended an all girls school but said people were catty and bitchy. ‘She spoke about liking New Zealand in the first instance and liked having a large garden. The second instance was in the city and was a far worse experience for her than the first all girls school.’ The report said the school was shocked at Sophie’s death as it had been assisting with her mental health and felt she was improving.
‘We were shocked by the news of Sophie’s death we felt Sophie had turned a corner and around school she resented as lively, happy and an outgoing personality,’ it said. Mr Clarke added: ‘I was happy with the way Sophie was cared for it’s interesting to hear the conversations she and the team had.’ In his conclusions, Senior Coroner for Dorset Sheriff Payne, said: ‘Clearly she had struggled with her life and it go to the stage last year when she took an overdose and ended up in hospital. ‘She came to the attention of child mental health services. As we’ve hear she worked with a counsellor who saw her regularly and assessed her. ‘She went though various periods but towards the time of her death she was improving. On June 14, the day she disappeared, she appeared a lot better. ‘She had discussed the feud with her ex girlfriend she had recently resolved so on June 14 there were no signs or alarm bells anything significant was going on in her life. ‘The police treated this as a very serious missing person report and commenced inquiries. She had gone into this very dense woodland – we’re talking about the middle of summer. ‘She had hanged herself and it is clear no-one else is implicated in that. She clearly had been unhappy. ‘I think there was nothing that could have been done that could have prevented this. I think the school was very alive to the mental health of its pupils and they took action when it became clear she was cutting herself. ‘At the end of the day she was the one who took herself off to this remote location and ended her own life. ‘Therefore I have to record a conclusion that Sophie Clark took her own life – she committed suicide. I have the greatest regret in that, it’s so, so sad.’