Social media-loving schoolgirl, 15, killed herself after spending hours in her bedroom posting photos and statuses from her phone in a quest to get 'likes'

  • Ruby Seal, 15, took her own life in February 2017 after posting on social media
  • Teenager had mental health problems and went online looking for 'reassurance'  
  • Mother Julie, 42, who lives in Carlisle, wants social media banned for under-16s 
  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

A social media-loving schoolgirl killed herself after spending hours in her bedroom trying to get likes on her posts.

Ruby Seal, 15, who lived in Carlisle, Cumbria, would spend evenings and weekends attached to her smartphone switching between different profiles. 

In February 2017, after a row with her mother about racking up a £200 phone bill and posting online but receiving no response, Ruby took her own life.  

Now mother-of-three Julie, 42, has called for social media to be banned for under-16s and said: 'I'm sure if social media wasn't a thing Ruby would still be with us.' 

Ruby Seal, 15, who lived in Carlisle, Cumbria, took her own life in February 2017 after nobody responded to a social media post she had made. Her mother Julie, pictured together, is now campaigning for Ruby's Law which would see social media banned for under-16s

Ruby Seal, 15, who lived in Carlisle, Cumbria, took her own life in February 2017 after nobody responded to a social media post she had made. Her mother Julie, pictured together, is now campaigning for Ruby's Law which would see social media banned for under-16s

Julie said that in extreme cases Ruby would spend hours locked in her bedroom posting several photos and statuses a day in a desperate bid to get likes. 

In a bid to stop her, she switched of their home WiFi - but Ruby would use 4G instead and racked up data bills of £200 per month.

In the months leading up to her death the schoolgirl would share cryptic statuses and messages to her friends asking 'If this was my last day what would I do?' and memes claiming she was a 'disappointment'.

After a row with her mother Ruby uploaded a photo to her Snapchat feed - who according to friends - asked 'I might as well kill myself in the morning.'

But when nobody responded, Ruby - who suffered with mental health issues - took her own life on 21 February 2017.

She was found by her younger twin sisters. Her grandparents phoned for an ambulance but Ruby was pronounced dead at Cumberland Infirmary later that day.

Ruby, pictured, who suffered from mental health problems, got her first social media account on Facebook when she was 12 but soon made ones on Instagram and Snapchat

Ruby, pictured, who suffered from mental health problems, got her first social media account on Facebook when she was 12 but soon made ones on Instagram and Snapchat

An inquest in July 2017 ruled Ruby's death as a result of suicide.

Julie, 42, believes the rise of social media fuelled Ruby's insecurities and she is campaigning for a 'Ruby's Law'.

She said: 'Ruby as a little girl was funny, she was clever, she was witty. But this started to fade away when she started to grow up and gain independence.

'Social media was definitely a big influence on her mood. I could tell when she wasn't getting the reassurance she wanted.

'I'd pop my head into her bedroom and ask if she wanted to go to the shops with me and she'd just grunt and stay in her room.

'At the same time I'd notice when she had a good status or pictures as she'd come down for dinner sometimes and would have a little bounce in her step.

'She always had this low confidence and low self esteem. But it started to manifest when she was putting on these pictures and different posts and statuses.

Mother Julie, 42, said Ruby was 'funny, clever and witty' as a little girl, pictured, but this 'started to fade away when she started to grow up and gain independence'

Mother Julie, 42, said Ruby was 'funny, clever and witty' as a little girl, pictured, but this 'started to fade away when she started to grow up and gain independence'

'I suppose it's similar to other children in her age group. But now knowing her mental state was quite poor at that time he had a negative impact on her.'

Julie claims Snapchat's 'streak' feature, which tallies direct snaps exchanged between friends over consecutive days, encouraged her daughter to keep posting.

Longer streaks are rewarded with special emojis but the tally goes back to zero if a day of messaging is missed.

Ruby made her first social media account aged 12 - and was under the watchful eye of Julie who added her as a friend on Facebook.

However she soon downloaded Snapchat and Instagram where her mother couldn't see what she was posting as clearly.  

Julie said Ruby would 'always question if people genuinely liked her' and say she was only invited to parties to 'make up the numbers.' 

She said: 'Ruby was becoming really attached. She used to be into skateboarding and Doctor Who before she became obsessed with Snapchat.

'She would always question if people genuinely liked her. So her reassurance would be the status and the Snapchats.

'There wasn't a particular trend or celebrity that she obsessively followed. It was purely to get reassurance.'

Julie, pictured with Ruby as a child, said: 'Children are becoming far more isolated. On their phones, in their rooms. They should come to us for help and advice not to this virtual world'

Julie, pictured with Ruby as a child, said: 'Children are becoming far more isolated. On their phones, in their rooms. They should come to us for help and advice not to this virtual world'

By the age of 12 Ruby was self-harming due to low self-esteem and was admitted to CAMHS for fortnightly visits.

She was signed off in July 2016 and the family moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle for a new start. Ruby kept on using social media to stay in touch with friends.

However it wasn't until the last year of her life that her social media accounts were dominating her free time.

Ruby's messages included: 'I might pop down to A&E and see if they can stitch my life back together.'

Another said: 'How I sleep at night knowing I'm a disappointment and knowing no one cares about me.' 

Now two years on from Ruby's death, mum Julie says her teenage daughters suffer from mental health problems. 

She has launched a petition to campaign for 'Ruby's Law' which so far has 2,700 signatures. The current age limit for social media is 13.

Julie said: 'My girls have PTSD now from what has happened. We will always miss Ruby and what has happened will always stay with us. 

'Children are becoming far more isolated. On their phones, in their rooms. They should come to us for help and advice not to this virtual world.

'If people are to sign up to these social media accounts it is linked to something like their national insurance number or something like that.

'That way people are accountable. I'd like to see something put in place from the government or the social media platforms.

'Hopefully that will help take the pressure off parents. We don't really have a choice' or any say in the matter.

'It's easy to say 'well get your kids off social media' but that isn't realistic. 

'I'd like to see the government or the social media platforms take responsibility so we never see another child lose their life due to a virtual world before they've lived a life in the real world.'

An NSPCC spokesperson said: 'Ruby's death is heart-breaking. It's crucial that young people have somewhere to turn. Childline - 0800 1111 - is here 24/7 whatever their worry.'

A Snapchat spokesman said: 'We encourage everyone to have open and honest conversations about what they're doing online.' 

To sign the petition click here; https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-make-social-media-illegal-for-under-16-yr-olds 

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

Social media-loving schoolgirl, 15, killed herself after spending hours in quest to get 'likes'

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