Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Tragic Suicide of Nicola Raphael - bullied to death for being a goth

September 10, 1985- June 24, 2001

A case which attracted a lot of media attention especially in the Scottish press back in 2001 was the tragic suicide of Nicola Raphael a 15 year old who endured constant bullying simply because she dressed in black. This ties into the recent reports on the square in Glasgow which was Nicola's favourite hangout [Glasgow - Alternative teens banned from public place]. In many ways the suicide could be read as a grim warning of the strength of hatred that was to lead to Sophie Lancaster’s death. There is bright spot in the tragedy of Nicola’s death in that her organs later helped save lives:

Nicola's frozen heart saves toddler-three years after her suicide Teenager who was bullied to her death gives the gift of life to a little boy after her organ is defrosted for a remarkable transplant operation
Mail on Sunday; 10/17/2004; “Surgeons carried out the remarkable operation last week after the heart was 'defrosted'. The organ came from schoolgirl Nicola Raphael, 16, who committed suicide in 2001 after being bullied for wearing Goth makeup”

The extent of the bullying is all discussed in an article from 2006:


But Nicola had endured months of vicious bullying by a gang of 30 teenagers, known as "the Neds". They threw stones, cans, water bombs and food at Nicola simply because she dressed differently to them. "She dressed as a goth, wore dark eye make-up and a long black coat, but was a neat, clean girl, " says Rona. Then one day Nicola arrived home with bruises."She told me 'I'm sick of it, Mum, ' she told me, " says Rona."Her shoulders were bruised after stones were thrown at her. I went to see her headmaster, but nothing changed.

"The bullies called her names like 'zombie', 'walking dead' and 'witch', ".

"I offered to take her out of school, but she refused to let them win. She seemed to be resolute about coping." But Nicola, who gained top grades in her GCSE mocks, seemed happy at home and was looking forward to the summer holidays.

Then one Friday night Nicola hit a new low."Her brother was home from university and we sat chatting, " remembers Rona. "When we went to bed, she said: 'Mum, I'm out of eyeliner, could you get me some?' They were her last words to me.

This important and detailed article in the Scottish Sunday Herald covers the incident and reveals the extent of harassment teen goths in glasgow were undergoing at the time:

Suddenly they're everywhere. Their black clothes and purple lipstick

Sunday Herald, The, Jul 1, 2001 by Alan Crawford

"They think we worship Satan, just because of the way we dress," says Gill Cairns, a 16-year-old who lives in Clarkston in Glasgow. The first thing you notice about Gill is her lips, smeared in dark purple lipstick. She has a stud in her tongue to match the one in her nose and is wearing a black hooded top over a pair of baggy jeans.

"Everyone seems to think we're wrong or evil, but we all do really well in our classes. We're the ones that work in school. None of us wants to fight, but we all feel intimidated all the time. We just keep ourselves to ourselves. We never say, 'Look at you, you're wearing trainers.'"

Gill is standing outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square with around 150 friends and acquaintances, all dressed in punk, goth or "mosher" style. Black is the colour of choice. Feelings at their favoured meeting place are running high today; many of those present have just returned from the funeral of their friend, Nicola Raphael, who was buried in her home town of Kirkintilloch after taking her own life. She was 15.

Scores of teenagers joined the funeral cortege; some wearing black make-up and hooded tops, others in dark trenchcoats and with long chains dangling from their waists. Heavy clouds raced over the Campsie Hills as the youths followed the hearse on its painful way the few hundred yards from St Columba's Parish Church to the cemetery. With the coffin was a message from the girl's mother, Rona, which read: "To my wonderful daughter Nicola. Give 'em hell!!!!"
Like her school friends, and in common with hundreds of teenagers all over Scotland, Nicola liked to wear clothes and make-up that made her stand out from the crowd. Goth, mosher, punk, whatever; Nicola's friends say she was bullied at school and in the street, simply because of the clothes she wore. Just two days before her death she and her school friends had to be escorted from their school, Lenzie Academy, because of intimidation from other youths.

"There were neds bringing stones in and throwing them at us because of the way we dress," said one 15-year-old school friend. "That's when it got really bad."

Another girl, also 15, added: "We went to the head teacher [at Lenzie Academy], and he basically said it was our own fault because of the way we dressed. We went to him again and his solution was just to stay away from them. They weren't reprimanded at all."

These problems led to fears of a major riot in August 2001 as reported in the Herald in July.

THE teenage fans of Eminem and Marilyn Manson are being secretly spied on by undercover police intelligence officers who fear violence at next month's Gig on the Green concert in Glasgow.

They believe that fans of controversial rapper Eminem could round on so-called "goth" or "mosher" fans of Marilyn Manson, as both acts are on the bill for the Glasgow concert on August 25. The police action follows the suicide of 15-year-old Lenzie schoolgirl Nicola Raphael, who took her own life after being bullied for dressing like a goth. Many of her friends have reported being attacked in the street by what they call "ned" gangs simply for dressing in black clothes and wearing dark make-up....

Officers in charge of the gang surveillance operation said: "Manson's fans will inevitably be the target of the much more streetwise fans of Eminem. There is seldom any problem with goth fans, as they tend to be quite well educated and well spoken."

Police say they will be staging one of their biggest security operations ever during the event. More than 200 officers will be drafted in for crowd control, backed up by an underwater unit, mounted police and a helicopter team.

In the event there was no trouble and Manson himself dedicated a song to Nicola and discussed her death on stage: Marilyn Manson comforts a grieving mom... [More on that here: SeemsLikeSalvation News.]

Interesting to note that Sophie Lancaster was a massive Manson fan and one of his songs played at her funeral just as it was hopped to play one at Nicola’s funeral. The significant thing is the police operation indicates that they were well aware of the grim reality that goth/metalers faced harassment and violence in 2001. Nothing has changed.


Anonymous said...

I think what happend to Nicola was tragic and discusting!

I was actually in the year under her a school and knew how she was.

she never caused anyone any bother and seemed a very pleasant girl

i think its such a waste of a life and i cant imagine how Nicola,s mum
must be feeling

my heart goes out to her, i think serious action should be taken in schools,

for the people that are bullying others for being different its not right! and people are loosing children and lives over

people how bully others to make there self feel good!

schools are in no way doing enough to help theese pupils its shocking and further action should be taken now!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I knew nicola she was my big brothers friend through nursery primary and secondary up until she killed herself and by brother was torn apart and he still is to this day i will always remember nicola being such a kind person and i attend lenzie academy and they said the same thing t me when i got bullied basicaly it was my fault and i should stay away from them. it was me against 30 in the year above me i got punched in the face flung into a pillar n had a slush puppy smacked of the back of my head and i got the blame thiings will never change its always going to be the same no matter what
R.I.P Nicola
we miss you

Anonymous said...

memorial page for nicola on facebook

Anonymous said...

RIP angel xxx

I am 21 years old and a survivor of bullying from Cardinal Newman, in bellshill near Glasgow.

I was bullied for the same reasons every day.

I hope we can get justice for the deaths of so many young people who are driven to suicide from bullying.

I know I thought about it at times, I was later diagnosed in my adult years with depression.

Kids need to be educated about different subcultures and realize that just because they look different or have other interests, doesn't make them any less of a human being.

God bless anyone who has suffered from bullying.

Anonymous said...

I live in Australia and i have 2 girls who are both 15 years of age they both dress in black black lipstick black hair black clothes....they have been bullied for the last year or so now and yes they have both tried to take there own lives because of it....I have got to the stage where im moving states and taking them out of school to hopefully give them a better life a new start....schools should be doing more about teaching all kids about respecting everyone who is different and that there words are like knives and that there actions should have consequences.....