Essex girl, 12, takes her own life after mental health struggles

A 12-year-old Essex girl tragically took her own life after ‘struggling’ with mental health issues, an inquest has heard.

Amira Temani-Lewis died in hospital after years of battling mental health problems. On May 12, 2020, emergency services rushed to Amira’s home address in Billericay, Essex.

Police and ambulance arrived at the scene where CPR was performed on Amira. She was rushed to Basildon Hospital but despite best efforts of hospital staff, she was confirmed dead at 1.50pm, shortly after arrival at the hospital.

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The inquest into Amira’s death was heard today (May 24) by Senior Coroner for Essex, Lincoln Brookes, at Essex Coroners Court in Chelmsford, Essex.

The court heard that a child abuse investigation team were also called to conduct a report, which is a usual procedure under the circumstances when a young person dies of ‘unnatural causes’.

Detective Inspector at Essex Police, Andy Clarkson, led the investigation alongside the child abuse investigation team, but they found nothing suspicious nor worrying about the conditions Amira was living in. DI Clarkson attended the inquest to give evidence.

What is an inquest?

Inquests do not investigate every single death that happens, but will hear unexplained or suspicious deaths of individuals. They will hear from witnesses from organisations, health services, as well as officers and police who investigated the incidents.

The law says that the coroner must open an inquest into a death if there is a reasonable cause to suspect that the death was due to anything other than natural causes.

An inquest is a limited fact-finding inquiry to establish:

  • Who died;
  • When they died;
  • Where they died;
  • How they died; and
  • Information needed by the Registrar of Deaths so the death can be registered.

There is a formal court setting and all must stand when the coroner enters and leaves the court.

It is very much in the public interest to have an effective inquest system, as it safeguards the legal rights of the deceased’s family and other interested persons. It highlights lessons to be learned and advances in medical knowledge.

Many families also find it helps to have the chance to ask questions to witnesses, and at the end of the process, know that they have the full and accurate facts about their loved one’s death.

Amira had taken herself off to her bedroom while her mother slept and sadly, during that time, Amira had attempted to take her own life. The court heard that Amira had ADHD, for which she was prescribed medication for.

She was also a ‘young carer’ for her mum and that she struggled during lockdown and had known mental health issues.

When Amira was six years old, she had previously told social service workers that she ‘wanted to die’, the court heard.

A child death review meeting was conducted, which asked why Amira was a carer at 12-years-old and why the family did not have assistance.

Where to get help

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or finding things difficult, there are a number of agencies and helplines available.

Here are a few of the links and numbers who will be there for you when you need.

Samaritans:
Helpline: 116 123
(free of charge from a landline or mobile)
Email jo@samaritans.org
www.samaritans.org
24 hr helpline offering emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide

Calm:
0800 585858

www.thecalmzone.net
Campaign Against Living Miserably Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.

HopeLine UK
0800 068 4141

www.papyrus-uk.org
For practical advice on suicide prevention

SHOUT
Text 85258
https://www.giveusashout.org/
Anxious/worried/stressed – get 24/7 help from a crisis volunteer

SOS Silence of Suicide
0300 1020 505 Monday-Sunday 8am until midnight
https://sossilenceofsuicide.org/
Striving to reduce Shame, Stigma and Silence surrounding Emotional Health & Suicide
For children and adults who need emotional support, understanding, compassion and kindness.

The OLLIE Foundation
https://theolliefoundation.org/
A charity dedicated to delivering suicide awareness. Providing confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried about a young person. Helping others to prevent young suicide by delivering a number of training programmes. Delivering online weekly mental health support sessions open and free to all young people.

The court heard that social services did give Amira counselling, but it stopped about a year before she tragically took her own life.

A non-invasive post mortem examination was conducted at Basildon Hospital by Doctor Gupta, who found the medical cause of death to be 1A hanging.

Toxicology reports found no compounds in Amira’s body, suggesting that she did not take her ADHD medication. The court heard that it was ‘unclear’ what could happen to her state of mind when her medication was not taken.

Coroner Brookes concluded that on the ‘balance of probability’, Amira died as a result of intending to take her own life. Her death was recorded as suicide.

Essex Live