Death of Milly Tuomey, 11, by suicide prompts mother to set up support group

By Louise Roseingrave 

The mother of little Milly Tuomey (11) has set up a suicide support group to help others and prevent future loss of life in the wake of her daughter’s death.

Fiona Tuomey founded the Healing Untold Grief Group (HUGG) with a number of specific aims.

The Tuomey family said their daughter’s post to Instagram that she had chosen the day she would die came like a ‘bolt out of the blue.’

“Milly was extremely vivacious, loud, chatty and fun. She had a super relationship with her sister. When she entered a room you knew about it, she was that kind of girl,” Mrs Tuomey said.

Tragic Milly Toumey before her suicide

The family, from Dublin 6 had recently moved back to Ireland from Switzerland and Milly had settled in well.

“She was very happy at school and loved it, She had new best friends, there was no bullying, she was not left out,” the child’s mother said.

Fiona Tuomey set up the HUGG support group to help others bereaved by suicide.

“The aim was to bring people together who have lost others to suicide. To provide peer support so people don’t feel so alone,” Mrs Tuomey said, speaking at the inquest into her daughter’s death earlier this week.

“It is also a point of information and a suicide authority to ring-fence services and prevent gaps, to prevent others going through what we have gone through,” she said.

The family did everything in their power to help Milly after they became aware of her Instagram post on November 3 2015.

“We spoke with her and with her school and we took her to her GP who we are told are the gatekeepers of treatment in Irish society.

“If you as we did, believe that the Irish College of General Practitioners require that the 2,500 GP’s in Ireland should be skilled in the practice of how to make a clinical assessment of suicidal risk then you will be shocked to know the answer is no. It is currently not obligatory for Irish GP’s to be specifically trained in identifying the recognised red flags associated with suicidal risk,” the family said in a statement.

The Tuomey family had lived in Switzerland for five years and Milly was a fluent speaker of German and Swiss German. She loved figure skating and had entered competitions. She loved to play the piano.

When Milly left her parents, sister and grandfather watching a film in the living room to go upstairs, saying she was ‘bored’ on January 1 2016, she said she was going to play the piano. Earlier, her parents had spoken to her about her refusal to eat lunch and the importance of her health. Milly had previously spoken of her unhappiness with her appearance. On the night of January 1, she was on Instagram and her parents told her she was not to leave the living room with her Ipad. She’d been ‘annoyed by this’. She was found moments later in a critical condition upstairs and rushed to hospital where she died on January 4.

Suicide in this age group is rare but becoming more frequent, according to Prof Ella Arensman, Director of Research at the National Suicide Research Foundation. She warned that younger children are now choosing ‘more highly lethal’ methods of self harm than previously. It is not known yet if this is connected to exposure to social media, Dr Arensen said.

“We see more young people where the time window of self harm moving onto highly lethal methods (or adult type methods) seems to be much shorter. We are concerned about exposures that are difficult for us to control,” Dr Arensman said.

More details on the Healing Untold Grief support group can be found here and a link to the group's Facebook page is here

Update 6.30pm: Regarding the statement by the family on the training of GPs in identifying suicide risk, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has said suicidal risk assessment is an obligatory part GP training.

“GPs are the first point of contact, typically, when patients present with mental health difficulties in the health system. As part of our management of mental health symptoms, all GPs in Ireland conduct risk assessments and take appropriate measures, including referral to secondary care services and/or liaising with the family to mitigate against this risk,” said Dr Mark Murphy, chair of communications with the ICGP.

“Suicidal risk assessment is an obligatory part of the ICGP training curriculum for GPs”, he added.

“The ICGP in collaboration with the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) developed an e- learning module in 2014 specifically on Suicide Prevention in general practice. This is available to all GPs as part of their continuing medical education and is also available to all practice nurses on the IPNA website.

"Furthermore as part of this initiative a DVD was sent to each ICGP member on suicide prevention in general practice".


 

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