A teenager committed suicide earlier this summer because she feared being confronted with a racist backlash due to a photo which had appeared online.
The Black Country Coroner’s Court ruled August 26 that Phoebe Connop, 16, committed suicide July 7 at her home, according to The Telegraph.
Connop, who was a talented gymnast, had started a relationship with an Asian male in the weeks prior to her death. She posted an edited picture of herself wearing a headscarf and with darkened skin to a private Instagram group, telling friends that this would be how she would have to look to get approval from her boyfriend’s parents.
“From speaking to her friends in the weeks following her death, we discovered that the image had circulated further than she wanted it to,” Detective Sergeant Katherine Tomkins said in court, The Telegraph reported.
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“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,” she continued.
Laurence Connop, Phoebe’s father, had been working with her July 7 but took her home because she said she was feeling unwell. When Laurence later returned from work, he found Phoebe hanging in her bedroom.
Laurence said Phoebe was a “lovely girl who would never want to cause [offense] to anyone.”
Phoebe’s high school has dedicated part of its spiritual garden to her and a book of condolences was opened.
“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,” Laurence added.
Stephen Lanckham, the head teacher at Windsor High School, sent a letter to parents following Phoebe’s death.
“Phoebe was a confident, warm and caring girl who was heavily involved in all aspects of school life and our thoughts and prayers are with Phoebe’s family at this difficult time,” Lanckham wrote, according to the Birmingham Mail.
The judge at the hearing also extended his condolences.
“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,” Black Country Coroner Safar Siddique said, according to The Telegraph.