'Beautiful' Barnsley teenager found dead may not have meant to take her own life

A troubled Barnsley teenager found dead by her mother may not have meant to take her own life, a coroner recorded.

By Steve Jones
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 11:50 am

Nineteen-year-old Eleanor Lomax, who was known as Elle or Ellie, was found in her bedroom by her mum Elaine on the morning of 17 February 2020 at the family home on Belmont Terrace.

An inquest into her death, held at the Medico Legal Centre in Sheffield on Wednesday, heard Ellie, the youngest of four adopted siblings, had depression and anxiety and used alcohol ‘in a harmful way’ to cope.

A former pupil at Penistone Grammar School, her problems began in 2012 when bullying started.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ellie Lomax died from misadventure, a coroner recorded.

Laura McClure, a nurse in mental health and team manager at Barnsley Council, told the inquest Ellie experienced “quite significant trauma” as a child.

Ms McClure said: “She had in her a sense that people would leave at some point so she would keep people at arm’s length.

“She built some really close friendships and people had let her down.”

Ellie received weekly interpersonal psychotherapy sessions with Ms McClure but the amount of support available to her was reduced to monthly meetings with a different service when she turned 18.

She attempted suicide in the months she was waiting for a referral to adult mental health services.

Ms McClure added: “That could have been something that was better managed and I think it’s being better managed moving forward.”

Despite adult mental health professionals believing Ellie later made progress, her parents felt she struggled when the emphasis to get help was placed on her.

Dad Chris said: "The reliance of the young person in the process is really a bit of a fault.”

Elaine added: "Ellie to me was very young, even though she was 18 she wasn’t as mature as other 18-year-olds.

“To expect her to come to you and say ‘I need help’, that was what she struggled with.”

Ellie was admitted to The Priory Hospital, Altrincham in November 2019 and told staff she had planned to take her own life the previous weekend after a night out drinking with friends.

Dr O’Malley from the hospital said she felt the teenager had an unstable personality disorder.

“Nasty comments” had also been made about Ellie on social media weeks before she died.

Heartbroken Elaine paid tribute to her daughter.

She said: “She was a beautiful little girl who when she came into our lives [...] she gelled the family together.

"She was small as a baby, she used to bounce about. She was like a Tigger. We just all adored her, she was our little baby.”

Older brother Jason said Ellie “would do anything for anyone”.

Assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden recorded a verdict of misadventure.

She said: “It’s likely this act that she did was an expression of her distress rather than an attempt to take her own life.

"I don’t think that [suicide] was her ultimate aim. The evidence I’ve got is that Ellie was a very poorly young lady with a personality disorder that made her impulsive.”

A Priory Hospital spokesman said: “We offer our sincerest condolences to Eleanor’s family at this very difficult time, and will consider carefully the Coroner’s comments.”

Penistone Grammar School did not respond to The Star’s request for comment.

If you need to talk, you can call Samaritans free at any time on 116 123, or visit samaritans.org.