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Gresham’s School sixthformer Rebecca Haley had watched programme featuring depression and suicide before taking her own life

PUBLISHED: 15:36 25 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:24 25 October 2016

Rebecca Haley.

Rebecca Haley.

Archant

A Gresham’s School sixthformer had watched a television series which featured depression and suicide before taking her own life, an inquest heard.

Rebecca Haley, known to friends as Becca, died on April 30 at the boarding school in Cromer Road, Holt.

The 18-year-old boarder, who lived at the school’s Britten House, was found hanging in her room by matron Julie Simms after she had not been roused by the morning bell.

In a statement read at an inquest into her death, held today, her best friend Hannah Rice said they had been watching Flowers - a black comedy shown on Channel 4 - the night before Miss Haley was found.

Miss Rice’s statement, read by area coroner Yvonne Blake, said: “The Friday night before her death we were both in the common room. We watched a programme called Flowers.”

She said the programme - which stars former Gresham’s pupil Olivia Colman - featured a man suffering with depression, and that at one point he attempted suicide.

But by the end of the series, where an episode was shown each night, he was much happier.

Miss Rice said they had both been upset by the emotive show, and Miss Haley - who was a prefect and keen artist - had hugged her for longer than usual.

But she said: “She did not tell me or indicate in any way she wanted to take her own life.”

Miss Rice last saw Miss Haley around 10.45pm as they were brushing their teeth.

And it was just before 7.30am the next morning when matron Julie Simms went to get Miss Haley out of bed that she was found, and emergency services called.

The inquest heard how Miss Haley had suffered with depression since around the age of 13, and had previously attempted two overdoses and had self-harmed.

She had previously gone to live with her father, Julian, who worked in Jamaica but after he moved she went back to her mother Patsy’s, near Stowmarket, Suffolk before starting at Gresham’s.

But in evidence given at the inquest Mrs Haley, Miss Rice, school staff and medical professionals all agreed Miss Haley was also a very private person who did not ever reveal the reasons for her depression.

She had been seeing Patrick Draper, a case worker in Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) youth team, since May 2014.

But in Mr Draper’s statement he said she had missed an appointment and when he subsequently saw her at Gresham’s “Rebecca stated she did not have a need for any mental health services at that time.”

Giving evidence at the inquest NSFT deputy services manger Al Bailey said a review of Miss Haley’s situation “found the management of the case inadequate.”

However he said this was to do with the documentation of a care plan and risk assessment, and that the review found nothing more could have been done by NSFT to prevent Miss Haley’s death.

Giving a narrative conclusion, Mrs Blake said she was not able to say Miss Haley had died due to suicide, as she had to be sure this was what she had wanted to do.

“I have to say I’m not satisfied to the criminal standard that Rebecca appreciated the consequences of her actions,” she said.

“She had seen an emotional program with her friend on the same subject. Her friend had mentioned she was sad about leaving school.

“She was a highly intelligent girl. There was no note, no evidence of any planning, it was a very sudden act. I’m inclined to think she acted impulsively.”

Since her death an online fundraising page set up in Miss Haley’s memory has raised £884.27 for the Young Minds Trust.

Gresham’s School were contacted but declined to comment.

• Need to talk? The Samaritans can be contacted by ringing 116 123, emailing jo@samaritans.org or visiting samaritans.org


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