Girl found hanging following string of suicides in small UK borough

A teenager tried hanging herself the day after another girl became the latest young person to die in the same community, her mother said today.

Leah Phillips, 15, is recovering after being cut down from the stairs of her home in Pontycymmer, Bridgend, South Wales.

The incident follows a string of suicides in the area.

Natasha Randall, 17, who went to primary school with Leah, was found hanged in her bedroom at her home in Blaengarw, Bridgend, at about 6pm on Thursday. Six young men have hanged themselves in the same county borough in the past year. Some of the young people who died were known to be friends.

South Wales Police have been examining a computer used by Natasha, who was a member of social networking site Bebo and posted a farewell message to her friend Liam Clarke on it following his death last month.

Leah’s mother Tina Phillips said today she felt lucky her daughter survived after being found by husband David John Phillips and his eight-year-old nephew on Friday.

She told the South Wales Echo: “We don’t know how long she had been there. My husband lifted her up and then our neighbour ran in and cut her down.

“Leah says she doesn’t know why she did it. She honestly can’t remember much about it. It’s hard for me to take it all in, but I know I’m the lucky one really. I’ve still got my daughter.

“There was just no sense to it whatsoever. Leah was happy and always out with her friends. I can’t take my eyes off her now. Even when she has a bath I get worried. You just have to be careful.”

She said her daughter, who is now out of hospital, knew Natasha but was not close to her. She added that Leah is now waiting to see a psychiatrist.

A task force including police, schools and health workers has been set up to investigate the suicides.

Dale Crole, 18, was the first to hang himself. His body was found in a disused building in Porthcawl, South Wales, in January 2007.

The following month, 19-year-old David Dilling was found hanged near his home in Pyle, Bridgend. Thomas Davies, a 20-year-old friend of Dale and David, was also found hanged in February.

In August 2007, 17-year-old Zachary Barnes, of Wildmill, Bridgend, was found hanged. Last month, 20-year-old Liam Clarke, a friend of Dale Crole, was found hanged in a Bridgend park.

Earlier this month, 27-year-old Gareth Morgan, who knew Liam, was found hanged at his home in Bridgend.

Natasha, whose death was the seventh, left a message on her page on Bebo to Liam after his death, reading: “RIP Clarky boy!! gonna miss ya! always remember the gd times! love ya x. Me too!”

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned on Monday. The cause of her death is not yet known, and toxicology tests have been ordered.

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