Girl who was found dead at boarding school told her GP she was suicidal and deemed ‘low risk’
A girl who killed herself at a top girls’ boarding school told a GP that she was suicidal but was deemed ‘low risk’ and given a follow-up appointment six weeks later.
Caitlyn Scott-Lee, 16, took her own life in Wycombe Abbey’s theatre the night before she was set to sit for a two-hour detention.
Caitlyn was autistic and had become fixated on the ‘headmistress’ detention’, which had been given to her after vodka and a tattoo kit were found in her music locker.
The 16-year-old had been so distraught at the prospect of the detention that she ran away from a choral performance at Eton College where she was due to sing shortly before the Easter holidays on Match 21.
Her last diary entry on the night before she died read: ‘F*** the school. Running away was the best cry out for help I could give and you responded with we’d normally punish you but we know you’re already getting punished. Safeguarding my arse.’
Her funeral is set to take place in Buckinghamshire tomorrow.
Caitlyn Scott-Lee, 16, took her own life in Wycombe Abbey’s theatre the night before she was set to sit for a two-hour detention
Caitlyn was autistic and had become fixated on the ‘headmistress’ detention’, which had been given to her after vodka and a tattoo kit was found in her music locker
Caitlyn’s father Jonathan told The Times that: ‘It never occurred to me that I should have asked whether my daughter would – very literally – leave school alive.
‘Over the past week, I have been filled with compassion for the children who are sitting their GCSE and A-level exams. I pray that they will know that they are not defined by mere grades.’
The father told the publication that Caitlyn had made an appointment for herself at a High Wycombe GP for her ‘anxiety, depression and having suicidal feelings’.
She attended the appointment on March 30 and was referred to Buckinghamshire’s child and adolescent mental health services.
Then, four days later, on April 3, she was deemed ‘low risk’ following a phone consultation with the mental health nurse. A specialist appointment was made for her for almost two weeks time on May 16.
She killed herself on April 21.
Jonathan Scott-Lee told The Times: ‘I want Caitlyn’s story to lead to change, so that neurodiverse children get the help needed in schools and medical settings [and] also thrive in society.
‘If she had been prioritised appropriately and obtained medical intervention, she might still be with us.’
Caitlyn’s father has now started a campaign for all autistic children who disclose suicidal or depressive feelings to be seen by a specialist within 24 hours.
Autistic people are nine times more likely to kill themselves than people who are not autistic, research shows.
Caitlyn’s father has now started a campaign for all autistic children who disclose suicidal or depressive feelings to be seen by a specialist within 24 hours
Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University’s autism research centre, called the ‘low risk’ assessment and delay in receiving NHS specialist help was ‘shocking and wrong’. He has backed a campaign Jonathan’s campaign.
‘The combination of being autistic and depressed makes that child high risk,’ Baron-Cohen told the publication.
‘We need a rapid response pathway when an autistic child [reports] suicidal feelings – and everyone involved, including teachers and doctors, should be a part of that rapid response. If you are trying to prevent a death, you can’t hang around.’
Baron-Cohen also called on boarding schools – like Wycombe Abbey where Caitlyn attended – to make autistic people their highest priority due to their increased risks.
Caitlyn’s father said he now hopes to publish his daughter’s diary in the hope it will help others and give an insight into understanding how she was feeling.
The diary was retuned to them by the coroner ahead of an inquest. The family said the diary shows she was struggling with sleep as she appears to have written in it between 3am and 4am.
The family has since been given access to Caitlyn’s medical notes. They say it shows she was worried about schoolwork ahead of sitting her GCSEs and detailed that not ‘not spoken to the school about her concerns’.
Wycombe Abbey is a £44,000-a-year private school. Established in 1896, the school has around 650 female pupils aged 11 to 18 and each girl has her own ‘House Mother’, a girl in the year above in the same house who looks after her, especially in her early days at the school.
Wycombe Abbey is a £44,000-a-year private school. Established in 1896, the school has around 650 female pupils aged 11 to 18
The school told The Times that safeguarding was its ‘highest priority and the wellbeing and happiness of each and every one of our pupils lies at the heart of everything we do here.
‘We are well aware of the crucial importance of effective pastoral support for the young people in our care and our pupils know that staff are always available to listen to them and support them.’
The school said its pupils all have access to in-house counsellors, a chaplain, an on-site health and wellbeing centre. The school added that it was in close contact with family still and that their continued thoughts are with them at this time.
Likewise, a spokesperson for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We were saddened to hear of the death of Caitlyn and are in touch with her family, the police, and the coroner to ensure we assist fully with the ongoing investigation.
‘While that process is taking place we cannot provide further information, other than to send our deepest condolences to Caitlyn’s parents, wider family, friends and all those who loved her.’
Donations can be made to RSPB in Caitlyn’s memory as well as tributes at: memoriesofcaitlyn.com.
A full inquest into her death is set to be held on September 14.