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Wairarapa Times Age
Monday Apr 7, 2014
Disturbed by a state of severe depression Jessica Nakia Wilkinson took her own life after several times expressing suicidal thoughts during the preceding months.
Coroner Garry Evans found the 14-year-old Masterton student committed suicide at her Herbert St home after attending an aunt’s birthday party with her mother and step-father on August 24, 2011 – only weeks after a close friend had taken his own life.
Mr Evans didn’t hold a public inquest into the death, reaching his findings after reading information provided from Jessica’s family, doctors, counsellors, police and others involved with supporting her and her family before the death.
He found in the weeks leading up to her death Jessica had been having trouble with a group of other girls from her school, was experiencing severe depression following the death of a friend and since her parents had broken up; living with her father, Jason Clarke, for about six months in 2010. Jessica was also upset about her mother being pregnant.
While there were a spate of youth suicides in Masterton around the time, Mr Evans found Jessica’s death was not part of a “suicide pact”.
Findings released to the Times-Age state on August 24, 2011 Jessica’s mother Paula Vermeer, her step-father Joseph Vermeer and young brother had helped the aunt celebrate her birthday. On returning home Jessica helped prepare her younger sibling for bed and then her mother thought she had gone to bed until she and Mr Vermeer checked and found her bedroom empty.
Following a search of the property, Mr Vermeer found her dead. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate her.
Evidence presented to Mr Evans shows Jessica went to school on the day she died and her mother had found two letters her daughter had addressed to friends in her bedroom, one stating she was “going to miss her friend with all her heart”.
Mrs Vermeer then rang the deputy principal of Chanel College where Jessica was attending, to advise of issues Jessica was having with two girls in particular.
Jessica arrived home later in the morning believing she had a medical appointment and while her mother told her she didn’t need to go back to school, Jessica did return to school.
After school Jessica and Mrs Vermeer went into town for afternoon tea before the family went to the aunt’s birthday party.
Mrs Vermeer said Jessica “seemed really happy” and gave no indication she was planning to end her life, the coroner stated in the findings.
Jessica had not accessed her Facebook page in the weeks leading up to her death.
A letter provided to the coroner by Jessica’s counsellor stated the teenager had been struggling with the death of a friend and had commented to her mother she had planned to take her own life once her friend’s brother was feeling better.
The counsellor also stated Jessica had commented “she knew her mother loved her and she just did not know why she felt the way she did”.
Mr Evans found Jessica had taken her own life: “at a time when the balance of her mind was disturbed by a state of severe depression”.