*The girl was a student at Coláiste Muire.
CO CLARE IS EXPERIENCING an outpouring of grief following the death of a fourteen year old girl.
Family and friends of the teenager were heartbroken when the girl died peacefully at Crumlin Hospital on Monday.
Huge crowds attended a healing mass at Kilnamona Church on Saturday where prayers were said for the teenager.
She was a popular figure at Coláiste Muire in Ennis where she was in her second year, principal Jean Pound told The Clare Echo. “We’re very saddened by her passing, we are thinking of her family and friends at this difficult time. She was a lovely girl and was very involved in camogie and horse-riding. She had lots of friends and we have been trying to support her second year friends and peer community”.
Coláiste Muire has triggered its critical incident response plan and is receiving support from the Department of Education and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).
Ms Pound continued, “Any sudden death is a big shock to the community, we have a close-knit community here, the students are still coming into school and we are working with the students, we are doing our best to support both staff and students at this time”.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Fintan Monahan led a mass in the school which was attended by all second year students.
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) said the area was “united in grief”. He stated, “I have nieces and nephews at that age, and when they are around 13 or 14, they feel like they are going to live forever. The family never expects it when someone loses their life, especially someone so young. The community is united in grief and as someone who spent many years in a classroom, I’d expect the school to wrap around this girl’s classmates and friends. We will all be here for them at this time of grief”.
An Garda Síochána are investigating if the death was due to taking part in a viral TikTok challenge. At this stage, investigators believe she became seriously ill after inhaling aerosol after seeing a ‘challenge’ on TikTok. The trend is commonly known as ‘chroming’. The social media challenge has already claimed the life of a teenage girl in Australia.
A spokesperson for TikTok said in a statement, “Our deepest sympathies are with the family experiencing this tragic loss. Content of this nature is prohibited on our platform and would be removed if found. We will continue to prioritise protecting and supporting our community, working with expert partners and providing safety resources to those who need them”.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Media, Niamh Smyth TD (FF) raised the girl’s death as the committee met. She asked Online Safety Commissioner Niamh Hodnett to comment on concerns about online safety. Ms Hodnett said they were very saddened to read about the girl’s death, saying “this is the very essence of why we need an online safety code”.