No evidence schoolgirl was cyberbullied, inquest hears

There is no evidence that a schoolgirl who died by suicide was cyberbullied, an inquest heard.

Twelve-year-old Lara Burns died in a barn at her family home at Grange, Enfield, Co Meath, on Nov 24 last year.

There was speculation at the time of her death that she may have been bullied online.

However, Inspector Paul Dolan told Dublin Coroner’s Court that gardaí found no evidence of cyberbullying.

Her mother Helene Burns said she first became aware Lara was having difficulties in September when it emerged that she had been self-harming. Ms Burns said this was discovered when a friend of Lara’s sitting next to her in class saw marks on her arms.

She said that the teacher saw the commotion and Lara was sent to see the counsellor in the middle of class. “The teacher did not do it discreetly,” she said.

Lara promised her that she would stop self-harming, she said, and was attending suicide and self- harm crisis centre Pieta House. Ms Burns said that her daughter was not sleeping, was depressed, and had lost interest in life.

On the night of her death, Lara spent time on the family laptop and was later given permission to go outside to feed their horse. “She turned around and gave me a big hug and a kiss and said ‘I love you Mam’. That was the last time I spoke to Lara,” she said.

She was subsequently found dead by her brother Brendan. He told the court that one of her Facebook friends had told him Lara told her “she had problems on her inside which she did not understand”. He said he was aware of one particular friend that she had fallen out with but apart from that, he did not believe she was being bullied. His sister had been “very upset” when word of her self-harming got out in school. “She felt everybody was looking at her,” he said.

Insp Dolan said that a forensic examination of the laptop had revealed that Lara visited a number of websites relating to self-harm and suicide before her death. He said that while there were entries on Facebook there was nothing in them and there was no suggestion of cyberbullying. There was a conversation between two people, he said, which he characterised as “slagging each other off”.

Garda TM Milner said that diaries kept by Lara included a number of notes, one of which read: “Altogether I’ve tried suicide 28 times, it’s not worth it”.

Speaking from the court, Ms Burns raised issues regarding the length of time it took the ambulance to reach the family’s home and the transfer to Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, where Lara was pronounced dead. Garda Milner confirmed the ambulance initially went to the wrong address and, subsequently, took a wrong turn on the way to the hospital.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest to a date in March to hear further evidence.


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