Teenage girl, 19, killed herself over fears she was ‘losing her freedom’ in lockdown

An inquest heard that a teenage girl who hanged herself after the lockdown made her ‘terrified’ of losing her freedom and independence. 

Emily Owen, 19, was found by her mother and sister at their home in Shouldham, Norfolk, after the family decided to self-isolate because one of Emily’s sisters had a cough. 

Emily did not regain consciousness and died four days after she was found  on March 19 when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn took her off life support. 

Emily Owen, 19, killed herself after her family went into self-isolation because her sister had a cough

Emily’s father, Timothy Owen, told the inquest at Norfolk coroner’s court in Norwich that she was excited about a new start that was coming up as thy were planning to move to Cornwall. 

But the last push for Emily was the morning she wanted to go for a drive but was told she could not because the family were isolating, the Sun reported. 

‘The straw that broke the camel’s back was the restrictions – just being unable to cope with the restrictions, which is happening to a range of people in the UK at the moment,’ Mr Owen said.  

Norfolk senior coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded that Emily’s death was a suicide and offered her sympathies to the family on Friday.

She said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic struck and this caused Emily a lot of worry and distress. She was worried she was not be able to go out, having had a taste of freedom and independence.’ 

Mr Owen saidthat she had suffered mental health difficulties after she was diagnosed with autism in 2018.  

Emily’s older sister Annabel Owen said shortly after her death: ‘She couldn’t cope with her world closing in and plans being cancelled, and being stuck inside. It terrified her.’

Emily's sister, Annabel (left), said the idea of everything being cancelled and not being able to leave the house 'terrified Emily'

Emily’s sister, Annabel (left), said the idea of everything being cancelled and not being able to leave the house ‘terrified Emily’

Her family wrote a Facebook post about her describing her as  ‘our beautiful, funny, talented, and a little bit crazy daughter and sister.’

The post added: ‘We are all absolutely devastated but also immensely proud of everything she achieved in her life.

‘So many people have messaged us over the past five days saying how Emily helped them through hard times of their own, and we had no idea how much positive impact she had on those around her.

‘To many people. Emily was a really fun, energetic, happy girl, but only a few were aware of the many years of internal battles she had.

‘Few people are aware, but four years ago she was diagnosed with high functioning autism and had a daily battle to fit in and conform with social norms.

‘She didn’t want anyone to know, but now she has gone we want to make people know that autism comes in all shapes and sizes.

‘Despite this she managed to finish school, go to college, finish an apprenticeship and start working in the King’s Arms… Please look out for people, be kind as you never know what is going on in people’s lives.’ 

Emily was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in 2018 and often struggled with her mental health

Emily was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in 2018 and often struggled with her mental health

While Emily was on life support the family urged people to check in on their loved ones.   

The post said: ‘Our darling, beautiful, crazy daughter and sister tragically decided that she could no longer cope and tried to take her own life on Wednesday. 

‘She has been in critical care since then.

‘The decision has been made today to turn off her life-support tomorrow afternoon, giving time for the hospital to prepare for organ donation, something she signed up for in 2012 when she was only 12-years-old. 

‘That sums her up as always caring for other people.

‘Emily would have wanted you to check on your loved ones in these very difficult times, as she believed the fear of the unknown may drive them over the edge and (she) was planning on volunteering to help these people.

‘We appreciate all the amazing support we have already had and apologise in advance for nor responding to all your loving messages during this difficult time.’

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