‘Bright young girl’ from Brighton died at cliffs near Eastbourne

An 18-year-old woman from Brighton died at the cliffs near Eastbourne earlier this year.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 9:34 am

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall on October 7, heard Emily Norris, a student from Farm Hill, died at Beachy Head cliffs on May 3.

Miss Norris’ mother, Vikki Norris, said the family had eaten dinner on the night of May 3 and after that Miss Norris drove off.

Ms Norris said she tried to call her daughter but got no response so called the mental health emergency services.

Eastbourne Town Hall SUS-210216-141625001

At first she said she was told not to call the police, but between 45 minutes and an hour later this advice changed and 999 was called.

Detective sergeant Paul Edwards spoke on behalf of detective sergeant Ross Bartlett who was on duty that night. DS Edwards said a couple had seen Miss Norris at Beachy Head at around 11.30pm and officers were called to the scene where Miss Norris’ body was found that night.

Dr Rick Fraser, a consultant psychiatrist from the Sussex Partnership Trust, told the inquest he had been seeing Miss Norris from September 2020 until the end of March 2021.

He said she was seen by a mental health community team for people aged between 15-25 who have mental health difficulties ‘of a concerning level’.

Dr Fraser said, “She was a bright young girl and popular with the team. The team was distressed when we heard of her death.”

The inquest heard Miss Norris had been diagnosed with a number of conditions – autism, depression and anxiety, ADHD, and emotional unstable disorder.

Dr Fraser said Miss Norris ‘engaged well and attended regular appointments’.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said, “She had a long-term history of mental health illness.”

Mr Craze ruled Miss Norris took her own life.

Since Miss Norris’ death, a Serious Incident Report has been carried out by the Sussex Partnership Trust as a way of improving future services.

The family raised concerns in the inquest around the way Ms Norris was told not to call the police on her first call to the mental health emergency services. The family argued the risk assessment should have changed as soon as Miss Norris drove off, and the advice should have been to call police straight away, rather than waiting another 45-60 minutes.

A spokesperson for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “We offer our sincere condolences to the family of Miss Norris.

“The inquest heard that Miss Norris was a bright young woman with complex needs and the care and treatment we provided was reviewed regularly and focused on her recovery.”

• If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.