9 Sep 2016

Coroner: Nine-year-old's death not suicide

9:00 am on 9 September 2016

A nine-year-old girl who was found dead at school did not want to end her life and was probably just trying end her feelings of distress, a coroner has found.


Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Coroner Carla na Nagara said that, as a result, she would not rule the death a suicide.

Ms na Nagara said the girl was usually happy and had a wide range of activities.

But she had been exposed to domestic violence and arguments between her parents and had experienced a high degree of transience in early life.

Her parents also believed she was bullied at school.

The coroner ruled that, while she had disagreements with her friends, who were sometimes unkind or thoughtless, this did not amount to bullying, even if the girl thought it did.

The coroner said that in the lead-up to her death, the girl had been late for school twice, had some sort of run-in with her friends, was growled at by her teacher and said she had been hit by someone who was not identified.

She later walked out of her class without permission. The teacher was busy with another pupil and asked another child to look for her.

It was then she was found dead in the school bathroom.

Ms na Nagara described the case as one of the most confronting and upsetting experiences anyone might expect to encounter in what appeared to have been a typical day at a New Zealand primary school.

She said the girl was a delightful child, who was loved and cherished.

The death was an abject tragedy, she said, and was devastating for her family, her friends and her school community.

The school was found not to be at fault.