Molly Russell: Mum found girl, 14, dead in room after she saw horrific social media posts

The mother of schoolgirl Molly Russell has spoken about the heartbreaking moment she found her daughter’s body.

Molly, 14, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

An inquest, which will examine whether algorithms used by social media firms to keep users hooked contributed to her death, was delayed in March after thousands of pages of new evidence about her internet history were submitted.

It’s taken five years for the inquest to finally open, and Molly’s mother, Janet, revealed earlier today about the harrowing moment she went in to check on the schoolgirl.

Mrs Russell told the inquest that on the morning of her daughter’s death, she was doing household chores and said goodbye to one of her other daughters who was leaving for school, before she began looking around the house for Molly, but could not find her.

In a statement read out on her behalf by Oliver Sanders KC, Mrs Russell said: “I knew then something wasn’t right.

“I saw a load of her clothes on the floor (of her bedroom). For some reason I thought Molly had run away.

“As I looked in her room, I found her … I had no doubt it was her.”

She added: “I screamed and ran out of the room. Ian (Molly’s father) came upstairs and I told him not to go into the room, but he did.

“My other daughter asked what’s happened and I said: ‘It’s Molly, it’s Molly’.

“Ian…began giving her CPR while I called the ambulance. They gave us advice.

“Soon afterwards, a paramedic arrived and began giving her CPR.”

Her dad, who has campaigned tirelessly for better internet safety, told the packed courtroom in Barnet, North London of the “torment” his daughter “must have endured” before her death five years ago.

Paying tribute to his daughter while her mother and sister watched on, Mr Russell said: “It is nearly five years since Molly died.

“Five years ago, the Russell family life was unremarkable, yet imperceptibly our adorable youngest family member, Molly, had been struggling with her mental health and hiding her struggles from the rest of us while she battled her demons in the hope of finding peace.

“Five years ago, as Molly’s feelings of worthlessness grew and her sense of helplessness deepened, as ending her life seemed to her like a solution – while to us her life seemed very normal.

“It is sadly all too easy to look back and think of the torment Molly must have endured, the pain she must have experienced, and the isolation she must have felt so deeply.”

He added: “It’s all too easy to dwell on the events that led Molly to end her life.

“It’s all too easy to forget the person she really was: someone full of love and hope and happiness, a young person full of promise and opportunity and potential.

“And so, as this inquest starts, we, her family, think it is essential to remember who Molly really was so we can each hold a picture in our minds of a caring individual, full of love and bubbling with excitement for what should have lay ahead in her life.”

Mr Russell read tributes from Molly’s friends, including a poem read at her funeral which said: “Thank you for inspiring us to face our fears, for making us want to do better, for encouraging us to grow and be good people.

“Thank you for showing us that we can get through the rain… and for believing in ourselves.”

He also described Molly as someone who “often took the lead but she was not demanding or pushy as a child”, adding: “Molly was undeniably a favourite to many of her teachers.

“She was an easygoing young girl. She was happy in her own company. She loved being with her sisters just as they loved being with her.”

“She was always the one who could be relied on to snuggle up to you on the sofa.

“She was self-supporting and capable.”

Senior employees from social media giants Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest are due to give evidence in person during the inquest.

The court previously heard how on Twitter, Molly tweeted or retweeted 460 times, liked 4,100 tweets, was following 116 accounts and had 42 followers.

She was a much more active user of Pinterest, with more than 15,000 engagements, including 3,000 saves, in the last six months of her life.

Molly did not have a Facebook profile.

But in the last six months of her life she was engaging with Instagram posts about 130 times a day on average.

This included 3,500 shares during that timeframe, as well as 11,000 likes and 5,000 saves.

Addressing what he hopes will happen following his daughter’s death, Mr Russell continued: “Just as Molly would have wanted, it is important to seek to learn whatever we can and then to take all necessary action to prevent such a young life being wasted again.

“Her life mattered and her place in the world will remain as important as it always was.

“Although her story is not the one any of us would have chosen to tell, and it is different to the one she would tell herself if she were still here, it will be just as powerful and influential.

“For those who knew Molly, never forget the adorable young woman Molly was. Never forget her caring nature. Never forget how great a friend Molly was to so many.

“For everyone touched by her story, remember there’s always help and hope. Remember to live long and stay strong as Molly wished.”

The inquest, expected to last up to two weeks, continues.