Surrey teenager died after reading article about suicide on school iPad | UK News
A 15-year-old autistic girl committed suicide after a “huge and systemic failure” at her special school left her unfiltered access to online documents about suicide, a coroner has found.
Frances-Rose Thomas, known as Frankie, took action to end her life at her home in Witley, Surrey, in September 2018, after reading a story earlier that same day on an iPad provided by his school in which a character committed suicide.
The investigation learned that the tablet computer did not have internet filtering software installed to prevent users from accessing inappropriate content, and that Frankie had access to suicide-related material for months.
Reading her finding in Surrey Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, Assistant Coroner Karen Henderson said she believed Frankie had been influenced by the documents she had accessed.
“Frances-Rose Thomas had a number of underlying vulnerabilities, including significant childhood trauma, high-level autism, and impulsivity,” said Henderson. “She died at 6:57 pm on September 25, 2018 at Royal Surrey County Hospital after being found unconscious…
“On the day of her death, Frances had unrestricted access to the Internet at school and in the absence of any effective electronic security monitoring and personal supervision systems, she researched and read stories about members of her. favorite group featuring suicidal acts. She left a note declaring her intention to end her life.
The investigation learned that while attending Stepping Stones School in Hindhead, Frankie had unfiltered access to an iPad despite having a “tailor-made education plan” to prevent such a thing. An investigation into the computer after her death revealed that she had been able to access material relating to self-harm and suicide for a few months. It was a “huge and systemic failure on the part of the school,” said Henderson.
“I am convinced that Frances-Rose Thomas died by suicide,” said Henderson. “I find that the way the Stepping Stones School failed to ensure sufficient electronic monitoring of Frankie’s iPad and follow his bespoke educational plan contributed more than very little to his actions later in the year. daytime. “
After the investigation, Frankie’s parents, Judy and Andy Thomas, said they were horrified when they learned of the material their daughter was able to access at school, “where we assumed she would be protected. “. They called on schools, especially special schools, to supervise students when they are online and to ensure that their computers have “the highest levels of filtering”, not only to block inappropriate content but also to alert staff to any attempted access.
The Thomases also called on the Department of Education to ensure that protecting students from online harm is standardized in all schools.
“Frankie was such a big part of our lives and it was a total privilege to be her parents and we were proud of her,” they said. “She had such potential and we believed in her 100%. She was truly unique and we miss her terribly and we still can’t believe she is gone.