Polish teenager who died by suicide 'suffered bullying and racist abuse'

A Polish-born teenager who was found hanged in toilets at her school had suffered bullying and racist abuse, an inquest has heard.

Dagmara Przybysz, 16, died at Pool Academy in Pool, Cornwall in the UK, at around 2.15pm on May 17 2016.

On Monday, an inquest into her death heard that the teenager had been having trouble with some girls at her school, and had injured herself the day before by punching a wall after becoming angry because she said some girls were laughing at her.

Cornwall Coroner's Court, sitting in Truro, also heard that Dagmara told her uncle Tomasz Dobek she had taken tablets the following day.

Dagmara's father, Jedrzej, said in a statement that Mr Dobek told him about the phone call, adding: "She did not want to tell me the reason for her upset. Later she said she had problems at school which I would not understand."

He said Dagmara did not look like a "person who had taken any tablets" so he told her to go to school and said they would have a "serious conversation" about her problems when she returned.

Mr Przybysz said: "My wife and I kept wondering whether we should have kept Dagmara home that day but there was no physical sign that she had taken any tablets, otherwise we would have taken her to hospital."

Mr Przybysz said he was waiting outside school to collect Dagmara when his wife called to say the police were at their home and that Dagmara was dead.

The family lived in Redruth and Dagmara and her sister went to Pennoweth Primary School, where they "very quickly learned English" but were the "first Polish children to attend the school", he added.

Mr Przybysz said they decided to send her to Pool Academy because it had a good reputation, though most of her friends went to Redruth School.

In a statement, Dagmara's mother, Ewelina, said her daughter, who was a "very beautiful lady", got on better with boys, and most of her friends, including her boyfriend, went to Redruth School.

Mrs Przybysz said she understood her daughter had been having a problem with one girl who had "called Dagmara names".

"I don't know exactly what was said," she said.

"This incident occurred only a few days before Dagmara passed away ... I don't know whether these incidents were racist in nature; however, I can say that on several occasions she overheard comments such as 'stupid Pole'."

Mrs Przybysz said on another occasion Dagmara heard a similar comment being made to another Polish or Lithuanian child and was "always trying to stand up" for the other child.

Answering questions from Dale Collins, who represented Pool Academy, Mr and Mrs Przybysz, who were not represented at the hearing, said pupils had made racist comments to Dagmara "a few times" but told them she had spoken to one of her teachers about it.

Mr Collins asked about a post on Ask.fm from 2014 in which Dagmara said "racism" when asked what problems she had at school.

He said: "It could be that she had problems previously but there was no longer any problems."

Mrs Przybysz said: "She had a problem in the last few months."

Lewis Simpson, Dagmara's boyfriend, said he met her at primary school and they had dated on and off since they were 14.

He said they were "inseparable" after starting to date again on May 9 and "felt that we were in a serious long-term relationship".

He said Dagmara came to see him at his grandmother's house on the day before she died and had her arm in a sling, having injured herself in PE.

Lewis said: "(She said) she sat outside the changing room and heard girls saying horrible things about her because she had taken PE so seriously.

"She said her tutor was there and did not speak up for her."

He said both he and Dagmara became angry later that day when discussing a rumour that they were going to break up, which he said was not true, and at one point she said to him "What would you do if I killed myself?" but that he had not thought she was serious.

Both Dagmara's parents and Lewis told coroner Dr Emma Carlyon that she had not left any kind of note before her death.

Answering questions from Dr Carlyon and Mr Collins, Lewis said Dagmara told him that other pupils made racist comments to her such as "go back to your own country" and he said: "I think it got to her a little bit."


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