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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 09:15 GMT
Mother's plea after rape suicide
Harriet McCormick
Harriet McCormick's personality changed after she was raped
The mother of a 20-year-old who committed suicide after she was raped has urged other victims to seek help.

Harriet McCormick, from Radyr, Cardiff, was "vivacious and happy" until she was attacked in a car park, her mother told an inquest.

But she developed depression and twice took overdoses before jumping off a footbridge onto the M4 motorway.

After the coroner said the death was a "direct consequence" of the rape Cheryl McCormick urged victims to speak out.

Speaking after the inquest Mrs McCormick, who has three other children, said her daughter had not reported the rape in November 2006 to police "because she blamed herself".

"We feel that if anything like that happens to another young girl, please, please seek help straight away.

I think when people blame themselves, they find it very difficult to let you in
William McCormick, father of Harriet

"Don't be afraid. Don't blame yourself. Talk to people, because people would be there. There is help available. Please, please come forward.

Mrs McCormick, a nurse, said she felt particularly strongly about the issue in the light of the recent spate of suicides involving young people from nearby Bridgend.

She added: "Everyone needs to talk. Families need to talk together, to help each other out."

Friday's inquest was told Miss McCormick was preparing to begin a French and Spanish degree at Bristol University when she jumped from the motorway bridge onto the hard shoulder last August.

Her mother described how the student had felt "dirty" and "violated" after she was attacked by the man on a night out in Cardiff.

'Difficult to cope'

A friend told the inquest in a statement that the pair ended up in a car park after walking out of the Creation nightclub, but the friend said Miss McCormick told the man "numerous" times she did not want to have sex with him.

Miss McCormick told her mother about the assault the next day, the inquest heard, but did not go to police because she could not remember what the man looked like.

She told the inquest how her daughter then became "very vulnerable and found it very difficult to cope" and was later referred to a psychiatrist.

The inquest was also read an e-mail sent by Miss McCormick to the Samaritans last May in which she wrote: "The first thing I think about is dying, and I'm worried because I want it to happen."

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan coroner Mary Hassell said the student "somehow blamed herself for the rape" and said she took her own life "as a direct consequence of the deterioration in her formerly excellent mental health" after the attack.

The inquest heard afterwards Miss McCormick cut her arms and legs and her trauma so affected some of her friends that some also self-harmed.

The coroner said she was "appalled" so many young women had been so badly injured "by the terrible actions of one man".

After the verdict, Miss McCormick's father William said: "I think when people blame themselves, they find it very difficult to let you in. They close the shell around themselves."

Listen to Harriet McCormick's mother tell of her daughter's experience

Student killed herself after rape
25 Jan 08 |  South East Wales

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