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Schoolgirl killed herself after putting 'racially offensive picture' online and fearing backlash

The Independent The Independent 28/08/2016 Siobhan Fenton

© Provided by Independent Print Limited A teenage girl took her own life after posting an offensive image online and fearing she could be accused of racism as a result, a coroner’s court has heard.

Phoebe Connop, 16, was found dead at her home in Halesowen in the West Midlands on 7 July. An inquest into her death at Black Country Coroner’s Court heard that prior to her death, she had posted a photo in a group message among friends which she had altered to show herself with dark skin.

The teenager had recently begun dating an Asian man and joked that she would have to look like the girl in the photo to get his family’s approval, The Daily Mail reports.

One of the members of the group chat shared the image online and Phoebe feared she may face a backlash and accusations of racism due to the insensitive image.

The inquest heard that she was working with her father during the summer holidays to earn some pocket money when she said she was feeling unwell one day and asked to be taken home. When Mr Connop returned to the family home later in the evening, he found her dead body.

Detective Sergeant Katherine Tomkins told the inquest: “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.”

Tributes have been paid to the teenager who was described as a talented gymnast who dreamed of being a midwife.

Coroner Zafar Siddique recorded a conclusion of suicide. 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.”

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