A grieving dad has called for ginger jokes to be made a hate crime following the death of his flame-haired teenage daughter.
Enda Farrell, 56, said he believed his daughter Helena, 15, might still be alive had she not been bullied because of her hair colour.
The teenager was found dead in woodland half a mile away from her home in Kendal, Cumbria, in January.
Helena, who was a gifted cellist and singer, had been out with friends just hours before she died and was said to be 'very happy' when she said goodbye to them.
But at about 10pm her body was found in dense woodland close to the grounds of the town's Castle Green Hotel. Cumbria Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.
At the time, Mr Farrell said his family had tried desperately to help Helena 'overcome her dark thoughts that began to cloud over her shining personality'.
Mr Farrell, his wife Maria and their 15-year-old son Declan said their lives had been 'ripped apart' by her death.
The cause of Helena's death has not yet been officially established, but her father said he believes she killed herself.
Mr Farrell said she had been tormented all her life by bullies' taunts about her ginger hair.
He called for a change in the law to make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their hair colour.
He said: "People need to realise that when they say the things they do, it can have deeply traumatising effects and can lead to self-harm and suicide.
"Helena's death was not just because of it but the bullying she faced all her life certainly contributed."
He is supported by local MP Tim Farron, who this week tabled a written question to Home Secretary Theresa May on the subject. He demanded to know what plans she had to ensure action was taken against those who persecute others on the basis of hair colour.
He said: "Kids can be really quite cruel but it shouldn't be tolerated. It's a serious matter and I cannot see how being ginger is any less qualifying for the additional category of hate crime that being a goth is."
Luke Roberts, national co-ordinator for the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said attacks on ginger people should be dealt with in the same way as any other prejudice.
He added: "For people with ginger hair bullying seems to be acceptable – the norm. That's what makes it totally inappropriate."
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