‘May God forgive these bullies... because I never will’

WHEN Nicola Raphael took a fatal overdose after years of bullying at her school over her Goth make-up and clothes she was just 16.

Eight months on, her mother Rona is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday life.

A civil servant with the Health and Safety Executive in Glasgow, she has not been back to work since the tragedy. And even though her job is being kept open for her, she says she may never feel well enough to return.

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"As time goes on, I think I’m worse than I was at the start. It’s only friends and my sons that pull me through," Rona said. "Some days I just sit here and cry. People expect you to bounce back, but it’s still very raw.

"The past couple of weeks have not been good and I have spells where I want to die. I don’t want to be here. I want to be with my daughter."

There were days when she didn’t even open the blinds at her home in Kirkintilloch.

"I don’t want to see anyone or meet anyone and I have felt suicidal myself.

"I go to the cemetery every day, sometimes twice a day, to see Nicola’s grave. I can’t seem to drag myself away from it."

Nicola had taken 40 of her mother’s Coproxamol pain-killers when Rona discovered her still lying in bed on Saturday afternoon.

"She was under her duvet and I could hear sounds, which was not unusual because she had sinus problems. I pulled the quilt back and shook her," she said.

"She was barely breathing and I knew she had taken something. I phoned an ambulance and lifted her up. She was flopping, her eyes were open but back in her head. You could only see the whites of her eyes and she was red hot.

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"As I lifted her towards me I found the empty pill packs she’d taken.

"The hospital did their best for her, but I knew as soon as I saw her she wasn’t coming back."

Nicola’s life-support machine was switched off the following evening.

"I miss her every day. I’ve got a picture of her on my bedside cabinet and I kiss it every night. This may sound naff, but I hold it to my heart and tell her I love her.

"People expect you to move on and go back to being the person you were before she died, but I’ll never be that person again. I can’t be that person again."

Rona, 49, is suing Lenzie Academy, alleging neglect. East Dunbartonshire Council denies her claim.

The bullies she blames for driving Nicola to her death had probably not realised yet the consequences of their action, she said.

"When they are older and have kids of their own and they are bullied, will they think of Nicola then? May God forgive them, because I never will."