Teenage girl took own life after fearing she'd be called a racist

Phoebe Connop, 16, took her own life after fearing a back lash from the photo being shared online. Photo / Facebook
Phoebe Connop, 16, took her own life after fearing a back lash from the photo being shared online. Photo / Facebook

A teenage girl took her own life after fearing she would be called racist after a photo of her with darkened skin and a headscarf was shared online.

Phoebe Connop, 16, from Halesowen in the West Midlands, had edited the photo after getting into an online relationship with an Asian male.

The talented gymnast sent the picture to friends on a private Instagram chat, explaining that the only way she would win the approval of her boyfriend's parents would be if she looked like the girl in the photo.

An inquest Black Country Coroner's Court heard how she took her own life after the image was then taken out of the private chat and spread wider by one of her friends, prompting Phoebe into fearing a backlash.

An inquest heard Phoebe had been working with her father Laurence, 53, to get some money for her summer holidays on July 7, when she asked to be taken home after feeling unwell.

Tragically Mr Connop, when returning home after work to take her out for a meal, he found his daughter dead.

Giving evidence at the inquest, which was held on Friday, Detective Sergeant Katherine Tomkins, from West Midlands Police, said: "From speaking to her friends in the weeks following her death, we discovered that the image had circulated further than she wanted it to.

"There had been some negative reaction and she confided in her friend, who did take the image down at her request, that she was scared of what the reaction might be from the Asian community in her area."

The inquest heard Phoebe was a talented gymnast who had ambitions of becoming a midwife.

Her family found a "wish list" in her bedroom following her death which said that she wished to study at sixth form.

Her father Laurence Connop told the inquest said: "She was a lovely girl who would never want to cause offence to anyone.

"She had shown me no indication in the weeks leading up to her death that there was anything wrong, let alone anything that would lead her to do this."

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Black Country Coroner Zafar Siddique gave his condolences to Phoebe's family.

He said: "This is an absolute tragedy for the family and I can't imagine the pain and distress they are going through, as well as her friends.

"There is nothing I can say to help with the pain but I offer my sincere condolences."

After Phoebe's death, a book of condolences was opened in the pupil's honour at Windsor High School in Halesowen.

Headteacher Stephen Lanckham said: "We in the Windsor community are deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss.

"We will remember Phoebe as a confident, warm and caring girl that was heavily involved in all aspects of school life.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Phoebe's parents, family and close friends at this difficult time and we will offer all the support and care we can to help.

"Phoebe will be lovingly remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing her."

An area in the school's spiritual garden has also been chosen by Phoebe's parents to be dedicated in her memory which will allow friends to reflect or pray at the spot.

Where to get help

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- Daily Mail

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