A bright 13-year-old schoolgirl found hanged in her bedroom may not have intended to take her own life, a coroner decided.
The character of Wolverhampton Girls High pupil Chelsea Clark dramatically altered as she became a teenager, the inquest was told.
The previously happy, family-loving child became moody, started to self harm, and ran away from home for a short time before taking a drugs overdose, Robin Balmain, the senior coroner for the Black Country, heard.
She was found hanged by her parents at the family’s house in Finchfield Lane, Finchfield on June 29 2011. Thirteen people later benefitted from organ donations.
Chelsea had a difficult relationship with her mother Margaret. Her mother told the court: “She had been the most kind, loving and happy child but became resentful and angry towards me. I suppose she hated me. We all tried to talk to her about it but towards the end it was like talking to a stone wall.”
Chelsea had been referred to an educational psychologist by her school five months before the tragedy amid concern over self harming.
Deputy head teacher Lynda Leigh told the inquest: “She was a lovely girl and, from what we can gather, she enjoyed school although she never really opened up to us.”
Senior Dr Adnan Al-Mesri Rodriguez, a child psychiatrist who was involved with the treatment of Chelsea after she had been taken to hospital following a drugs overdose in May 2001, said: “Her main concern was the relationship with her mum. Many factors could have played a role in the alteration of her character.
“She was starting to grow up, find her own feet and had been having what she regarded as a rigid upbringing.”
Doctors ruled that she did not present a serious risk of suicide and she was allowed to go home. Rev Paul Cody, chaplain at St Peters Collegiate School and a colleague of Mrs Clark, told the inquest: “Margaret has clearly been wrestling with whether she was to blame and plagued by questions but she is no more to blame than any other parent.”
Mr Balmain recorded a narrative verdict on Chelsea and said: “She hung herself at home in circumstances which were not suspicious but it is not entirely clear she intended to end her life.”
He concluded: “A family will always ask themselves ‘what if?’ but there is nothing at all in this case that suggests anybody, especially Mrs Clark and her family, should blame themselves.
“How you bring up your family is a personal choice, often a voyage of discovery.”
Mrs Clark said after the inquest: “Any verdict was not going to be a good one because, at the end of it, our daughter is dead.”