Stamping out stigma after Leeds teenager’s suicide

Lily Cleal. PIC: Cavendish Press
Lily Cleal. PIC: Cavendish Press
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SHE was a free-spirited, popular girl with her whole life ahead of her.

But on one tragic December day last year, 18-year-old A-level student Lily Cleal was found hanged at her family home in Moortown, Leeds.

She killed herself after a break-up with her boyfriend that, although amicable, left her struggling to cope with them having the same circle of friends.

Now the teenager’s parents, Quentin and Kate, have spoken movingly about their loss to try to raise awareness of the “taboo” of suicide among the young.

Mrs Cleal, a 53-year-old IT manager, said: “When Lily died, I thought ‘what was she thinking? How could she leave me? We were so close’. And then my friends told me ‘she was not thinking, she was feeling’.

“For Lily, all rational thought had gone. All it might have taken was to speak to someone about what was bothering her.

“Something needs to be done to remove the stigma that says it is odd just to say ‘I am feeling down’.”

Lily’s parents sat side-by-side with her ex-boyfriend, 18-year-old Danny Capossela, at the inquest into the Allerton Grange High School pupil’s death.

Leeds coroner David Hinchliff told the hearing: “When she was aged 12 she began a friendship with a boy called Danny at school.

“When 16 it developed into what they say is an item. After two years the relationship ended but they still remained friends.

“However because they were part of the same group of friends it could not be regarded as a clean break. It may be that both of them found it difficult if one of the other was seeing someone else.”

Lily and her mother spent the evening of December 5 last year shopping and eating together in Leeds.

The following morning the youngster, an only child, had a lie-in as she wasn’t due in school until the afternoon.

She called Mrs Cleal just after midday to talk about plans to put up Christmas decorations – only to then ring a friend in tears, saying she was “feeling down and needed a hug”.

Twenty minutes later she dialled 999 saying she was going to kill herself and, although paramedics raced to the house, they found she had taken her own life. She had left suicide notes for her parents and the paramedics.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Hinchliff said: “The only comfort I can offer is that there is nothing suspicious – having said that, I am at a complete loss as to why Lily took the action she did.”


Lily’s family is raising money for PAPYRUS, the national charity for the prevention of young suicides.

To donate, visit:

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