London: An Indian-origin teenager was found hanged in the grounds of a top UK grammar school after feeling excluded by her classmates for not including her in a WhatsApp group, an inquest into her death was told this week.
Elena Mondal, 14, was found unresponsive by her teachers in a wooded area at Hampstead’s exclusive Henrietta Barnett School in north London last year.
Psychiatrist Emily Hallgarten told Barnet Coroner’s Court that she may have felt excluded by her friends after not being included in a WhatsApp group, the Sun reported.
The inquest heard how her parents, Shyamal and Moushumi Mondal, feared that their daughter was being bullied at the girls’ school, which was ranked the top performing state-funded school in the UK in 2016 and 2017.
School officials told the inquest how Elena, who wanted to be a doctor, once fled a classroom in tears clutching a pair of scissors, before collapsing in a corridor and cutting her arms in a toilet.
A wellbeing manager at the school, Kelly Barry, said that Elena had been referred to the school counsellor after missing meals and complaining of depression but had missed several appointments.
When asked if the school’s “hothouse culture” could be putting pupils at risk of mental health issues, she said: “It is not unusual for teenage girls at different points to engage in experiments with food or self-harm.”
Consultant psychiatrist Cathy Wainhouse added that Elena may not have intended to die instead hoping that she would be found by friends before her “dramatic statement” went wrong.
The inquest has been adjourned until an expert psychiatrist can assess the care provided to the teenager before her death.