Calls for change after girl with autism found dead at Wycombe Abbey School

Warning: This article deals with mental health problems, including suicide.

The father of a 16-year-old schoolgirl who took her own life at a top UK boarding school is calling for better awareness of the needs of neurodiverse children. 

Year 11 pupil Caitlyn Scott-Lee died at Wycombe Abbey School last Friday night (local time). Now her father Jonathon has revealed his daughter, who had autism, was "hyper-fixated" on her first-ever detention before her death. 

He told The Sunday Times in her final diary entry, Caitlyn revealed how the detention was playing on her mind and running away on a recent school trip was a "cry for help". 

The teenager had been given the detention after vodka and a tattoo kit were found in her locker before the school holidays. 

Her father told the newspaper she was "mortified to get detention" and was "determined to do anything she could to avoid it". 

Jonathon told The Sunday Times he wants to raise awareness about the needs of neurodiverse children like Caitlyn. 

He said autistic people, like him and Caitlyn, tend to think in binary terms which can make it difficult to differentiate between extremes. 

He's asking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to call on high-performing schools, like Wycombe, to better support neurodiverse students. But he dismissed speculation the school piling exam pressure on young pupils was the reason for his daughter's death.

In a tribute on Friday, Caitlyn's parents said she was "gifted with autism" and loved theatre, arts, music and the environment.

"Caitlyn was a well-loved member of the Wycombe Abbey community and had a particular passion for the theatre, arts, music, and the environment," her parents said in the tribute.

"Caitlyn was gifted with autism and had an ability to see the world uniquely and thrive at her boarding house. The school community, friends, and family are grieving her loss but we are comforted in her personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

According to MailOnline, the school's headmistress Jo Duncan emailed parents in Caitlyn's year saying the community and her classmates are very shocked and upset".

"It is an extremely difficult time for everyone and we will do our utmost to provide the additional pastoral care the girls will need," Duncan wrote. 

Where to find help and support: 

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  • Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584