This is a terrible beyond words and a tragic loss of a young life. This is a sobering reminder of the effect of homphobia in our society in general and the church in particular. The fact that Lizzie thought she would be rejected by her family, even though unfounded as her father said, is a serious wake up call to the church to repent of the homophobia that leads people to believe they would be rejected.
In the months before her death, 14-year-old Elisabeth Lowe, known as Lizzie, had confided to pals that she thought she may be a lesbian, an inquest heard. Her friends said she was scared of telling her parents and had struggled to reconcile her feelings with the family’s strong Christian faith.
But Lizzie’s dad said her fears were ‘misplaced’ and that she would have received a ‘wealth of love and acceptance’.
The alarm was raised after Lizzie, from Didsbury, sent a text to a friend at around 8.30pm on Wednesday, September 10, which concluded by saying “…stay strong. I am sorry.”
The pal told her mum who in turn alerted Lizzie’s parents and the police, sparking a desperate search for her. She was eventually found hanged in the Millgate Fields area of Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury at around 11.15pm. Despite extended resuscitation attempts by paramedics, Lizzie, could not be saved and she was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.
A post-mortem examination concluded she died from the effects of hanging and that she had no drugs or alcohol in her body at the time of her death. She also had no diagnosable mental health problems.
Speaking about Lizzie’s fears of telling her parents about her sexuality, a friend told the inquest: “She said she wasn’t sure if they (parents) would be ok with it. I told her that I didn’t think it would be like that but she did not want to tell them.”
Some of Lizzie’s friends admitted to the coroner that they had shared a feeling of ‘sadness’ with her and they had regularly talked to her, both in person and over texts and Facebook messages, about self-harming and having suicidal thoughts.
One told the Manchester hearing that Lizzie, who was a top performer at school, a Scout and a musician in a Christian orchestra, had told her that cutting herself was a ‘coping mechanism’.
Lizzie’s tearful dad Kevin, an engineer, told the inquest that he and her mum had no idea about the issues she was grappling with. He said: “She was just normal and seemed happy. There was nothing to suggest she was distressed or had any issues. She was very mature, she knew what she wanted and she knew her own mind.”
Asked how the family would have reacted if she had spoken to them about her sexuality, Mr Lowe said: “It wouldn’t have come as much surprise. She was very much a tomboy. In fact, she was more of a boy than some of the boys were, so it would have been no surprise at all.
Speaking after the hearing, dad Kevin and mum Hilary, a chartered accountant, said: “Lizzie was a wonderful exuberant and loved member of her church, school and community. She was a gifted student, sportswoman and musician who was outgoing, fun-loving and enjoyed the love and respect of many friends. We are utterly devastated at losing her. 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 our precious daughter has left us heart broken-hearted.”