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Death of teenager ‘struggling with sexuality’ prompts soul-searching

09 January 2015

"Wonderful, exuberant, and loved": the teenager Lizzie Lowe

"Wonderful, exuberant, and loved": the teenager Lizzie Lowe

THE clergy of the church attended by a teenager who took her own life have issued a statement urging any in their community "wrestling with their sexuality" to talk to them, and promising love and welcome in return.

The coroner, Nigel Meadows, ruled last month that the teenager, Lizzie Lowe, aged 14, had intended to kill herself. She was found hanged on 10 September.

"She was a successful student but was going through issues of developing maturity and exploring her sexuality, and was struggling to come to terms with that against her faith beliefs," he ruled.

"It is clear she was struggling and she was talking to others about it. She never had the opportunity to share her concerns with her parents. But I have absolutely no doubt they would have been supportive in their reaction."

Speaking after the hearing, her parents, Kevin and Hilary, described their daughter as a "wonderful exuberant and loved member of her church, school, and community. . . Lizzie did not make known her struggle with depression and the challenges she tried to face alone as a young adult. We wish she had confided, because she would have found a wealth of love and acceptance and support. The loss of our precious daughter has left us broken-hearted."

The Team Rector of St James and Emmanuel Church, Didsbury, the Revd Nick Bundock, the Team Vicar, the Revd Ben Edson, and the OLM, the Revd Christine Sandiford, issued a statement: "Over the weeks and months since Lizzie died it slowly began to emerge that Lizzie had started to explore her sexual orientation and was also suffering from depression. It's also emerged that part of her struggle was a battle to reconcile her faith with her emerging sexuality.

"This is particularly painful for the clergy at St James and Emmanuel because had she felt able to talk to us she would have found love, acceptance, and all the tools at our disposal to help her on her journey. Lizzie didn't feel able to do this and we know that Parrs Wood School feel as we do, that despite our willingness to engage, the barrier was still too high to cross.

"We believe that we are an inclusive, welcoming church. However, in the light of this tragedy it is now incumbent upon the PCC and the wider church to prayerfully reflect on, and examine, our theology, systems, and our culture so that we can do all we can to prevent a tragedy like this from ever reoccurring.

"To this end the clergy will, in the New Year, engage the services of the PCC and our youth leaders to make concrete plans to address any issues of culture or procedure that may need to be changed or adopted. . .

"If there is anyone in the church or school community who is wrestling with their sexuality and wondering how it relates to their faith then please talk to us and don't bottle it up. In the meantime, we have a simple message for you: we love and welcome you; God loves and welcomes you."

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