21 September 2022

We must prevent young life being wasted, Molly Russell’s father tells inquest

21 September 2022

The father of schoolgirl Molly Russell has urged action to “prevent such a young life being wasted again” as her inquest finally began.

Ian Russell delivered a pen portrait to a packed courtroom at North London Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, speaking of the “torment” his daughter “must have endured” before her death in November 2017.

Molly, 14, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide on social media before ending her life, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

Paying tribute to his daughter while her mother and sister watched on, Mr Russell said: “It is nearly five years since Molly died.

“Five years ago, the Russell family life was unremarkable, yet imperceptibly our adorable youngest family member, Molly, had been struggling with her mental health and hiding her struggles from the rest of us while she battled her demons in the hope of finding peace.

Ian Russell arriving at the inquest into his daughter’s death (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Five years ago, as Molly’s feelings of worthlessness grew and her sense of helplessness deepened, as ending her life seemed to her like a solution – while to us her life seemed very normal.

“It is sadly all too easy to look back and think of the torment Molly must have endured, the pain she must have experienced, and the isolation she must have felt so deeply.

“It’s all too easy to dwell on the events that led Molly to end her life.

“It’s all too easy to forget the person she really was: someone full of love and hope and happiness, a young person full of promise and opportunity and potential.

“And so, as this inquest starts, we, her family, think it is essential to remember who Molly really was so we can each hold a picture in our minds of a caring individual, full of love and bubbling with excitement for what should have lay ahead in her life.”

Mr Russell read tributes from Molly’s friends, including a poem read at her funeral which said: “Thank-you for inspiring us to face our fear, for making us want to do better, for encouraging us to grow and be good people.”

Senior employees from social media giants Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest are due to give evidence in person during the inquest.

Her life mattered and her place in the world will remain as important as it always was

The court previously heard how on Twitter, Molly tweeted or retweeted 460 times, liked 4,100 tweets, was following 116 accounts and had 42 followers.

She was a much more active user of Pinterest, with more than 15,000 engagements, including 3,000 saves, in the last six months of her life.

Molly did not have a Facebook profile.

But in the last six months of her life she was engaging with Instagram posts about 130 times a day on average.

This included 3,500 shares during that timeframe, as well as 11,000 likes and 5,000 saves.

Addressing what he hopes will happen following his daughter’s death, Mr Russell continued: “Just as Molly would have wanted, it is important to seek to learn whatever we can and then to take all necessary action to prevent such a young life being wasted again.

“Her life mattered and her place in the world will remain as important as it always was.

Molly’s father Ian and mother Janet outside the court (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Although her story is not the one any of us would have chosen to tell, and it is different to the one she would tell herself if she were still here, it will be just as powerful and influential.

“For those who knew Molly, never forget the adorable young woman Molly was.

“Never forget her caring nature.

“Never forget how great a friend Molly was to so many.

“For everyone touched by her story, remember there’s always help and hope.

“Remember to live long and stay strong as Molly wished.”

The inquest, expected to last up to two weeks, continues.

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