Teenage girls held hands as they leapt from Erskine Bridge in apparent suicide pact

TWO teenage girls leapt more than 100ft to their deaths at a notorious suicide spot, it was revealed today.

The pair, aged 14 and 15, jumped together from the Erskine Bridge, near Glasgow, last night.

They were reportedly holding hands as they plunged into the River Clyde.

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of two girls, aged 14 and 15 years, at the Erskine Bridge on Sunday.

"Inquiries are continuing; however, there would appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths. A report will be prepared for the procurator fiscal."

The two girls were resident pupils at the Good Shepherd Centre in nearby Bishopton, Renfrewshire.

The unit cares for young people referred to the centre by local authority educational and psychological services, social work departments and children's hearings.

Both girls came to the unit seven to eight weeks ago.

A centre spokesman said they had been on apparently happy and productive weekend outings with relatives and were seen by staff in their pyjamas going to their rooms to watch television yesterday evening.

But staff carrying out routine checks noticed they were missing and began a search of the campus and the immediate vicinity.

Shortly afterwards, police called to inform staff of the incident which had taken place at the Erskine Bridge.

A spokesman for the Good Shepherd centre said: "The thoughts and prayers of all at the Good Shepherd centre are with the families and friends of the girls who have died.

"Counselling is being offered to the other residents at the unit, who have been shocked and traumatised by what has happened."

He said staff are offering every co-operation to the police.

The Good Shepherd Centre comprises three sections – an open unit, a secure unit and the St Francis Day Unit.

The two girls who died were among nine live-in residents at the open unit, which also has 21 day girls who live in foster or care homes.

Pupils there are not kept under lock and key but any outing requires authorisation.

No authorisation was given for the girls to leave yesterday evening.

The Good Shepherd Centre is an independent unit owned and managed by its own voluntary board of managers.

It is affiliated to the CORA Foundation, a non-profit-making company owned by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland.

The girls' bodies were pulled from the water last night after a search involving police, fire and rescue services, coastguard teams and the Ministry of Defence.

They were then taken to the Southern General Hospital in a Ministry of Defence helicopter.

Fire appliances from Clydebank, Knightswood, Polmadie and Renfrew community fire stations and two fire rescue boats were sent to the scene to assist with the search and rescue effort on the water and along the shoreline.

A coastguard helicopter was also sent to the scene, and pulled one of the girls from the water.

The second girl was located by a Strathclyde Fire and Rescue boat and removed with the help of a police boat.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it had been contacted by Strathclyde Police to help with the search for the two girls.

The Erskine Bridge connects Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

It is understood one of the girls originally came from Hull and the other was from the Argyll area.