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Body of 17th suspected suicide discovered

Feb. 19, 2008 at 11:50 AM

BRIDGEND, Wales, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Police are investigating the discovery of a body hanging from a tree in Bridgend, Wales, in what they said may the 17th suspected suicide in the area.

A man walking his dog Monday came upon the body of the 16-year-old girl in a wooded area about five miles from the Welsh town, Sky News reported.

Police were downplaying reports the 17 deaths may be linked or part of a suicide cult, the British broadcaster said.

Michael Bennett, who found the body, told The Daily Mail: "It was so shocking to find this poor young girl hanging from this tree. I feel shaken to the core by this."

Philip Walter, coroner for Bridgend and the Glamorgan valleys, said earlier this month he doubted a copycat theory connecting the suicides that began in 2007.

"I'm of the mind that there is no commonality between these deaths and preliminary investigations say the same," he said.

A task force involving police, social services, health and education officials has been named to investigate the suspected suicides.

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