Bullies on Snapchat ‘drove 15-year-old schoolboy to take his own life’, inquest hears
- Jack Parker was found dead in woodland in Tyldesley, near Wigan, on July 28
- ‘A swirl of unsubstantiated speculation’ about him emerged online days earlier
- Coroner to write to social media company over concerns raised by Jack’s mum
- For confidential support call Samaritans on 116123 or visit a Samaritans branch
Bullies on Snapchat drove a 15-year-old schoolboy to take his own life an inquest has heard.
Jack Parker was found dead in woodland near his home in Tyldesley, near Wigan, on July 28 of last year.
An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court yesterday heard that just days earlier, ‘a swirl of unsubstantiated speculation’ about Jack had emerged on social media.
His mother, Karen Robinson, told the hearing he also received a number of threatening messages over Snapchat.
In one, a user is said to have claimed Jack ‘was going to get jumped and needed to watch his back’.
Snapchat messages are deleted the moment they have been read so it is not known who sent the message, but Mrs Robinson said she believed it played a role in her son’s death.
However, a coroner said he was unable to establish whether the messages had a ‘direct bearing’ on the Fred Longworth High School pupil’s death.
Jack Parker was found dead in woodland near his home in Tyldesley, near Wigan, on July 28 of last year
The hearing was told Jack had ‘a number of worries’ in the lead up to his death.
Giving evidence, Mrs Robinson said her son had struggled with not being able to go out and see his friends or girlfriend during last year’s lockdown.
She said Jack was also undertaking mock exams at school and the workload was ‘getting on top of him’.
Then, in June of last year, Jack’s relationship with his ‘first love’ ended. Mrs Robinson said he had ‘struggled to get his head around it’.
The inquest heard he had asked a friend where he could get antidepressants.
Mrs Robinson added: ‘He just used to say ‘some things I can talk to you about, mum, and some things I can’t’.
At 2.30pm on the day of Jack’s death, Mrs Robinson and her partner, Andrew, were going out to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
‘We were going to get something to eat,’ she explained. ‘We asked if he wanted to come and he said no.
‘I made him a hot chocolate and took it up to him. I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too. That was the last thing he said.’
While she was out, Mrs Robinson received a text message from Jack’s ex-girlfriend to say she was concerned about him.
The hearing was told Jack (pictured) had ‘a number of worries’ in the lead up to his death
Mrs Robinson rushed home and dialled 999 to report her son missing.
Police traced Jack’s phone to Colliers Wood, near Tyldesley Rugby Union Club, where they found his body at 9pm that evening.
Pathologist Jonathan Pearson told the inquest a post-mortem examination had given Jack’s cause of death as ‘hanging’.
The inquest heard Jack was not known to any mental health services, but had confided in his head of year at school that he was struggling with lockdown and was ‘upset’ about the recent break up.
In a statement, Detective Inspector Tanya Kitchen said the school had contacted his family to make them aware he had been ‘feeling down’.
The inquest heard Jack was ‘shy’, but had a number of friends and had aspirations of joining the RAF.
Recording his conclusion, Senior Coroner Timothy Brennand said he was satisfied Jack had intended to end his own life.
He described him as ‘a thoroughly decent, hard-working, popular young man’, but added: ‘It was clear Jack had a number of worries and heartache.
‘There is evidence he was possibly suffering from some levels of anxiety and low mood, and possibly undiagnosed depression.
‘Jack was a young man with everything to live for. But he must have thought that taking his own life was the only way out.
Jack’s mother Karen Robinson (pictured with his grandmother Joan Welch) hopes people will learn lessons from her son’s death
‘This case is a further salutary reminder of the responsibility we all have as members of the community that whenever we send any messages into the internet ether, there is sometimes a cause and effect.’
Mr Brennand said he intended to write to Snapchat to raise the concerns of Mrs Robinson, who is campaigning for the social media platform to increase the minimum age from 13 to 18.
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Robinson said she hoped people would learn lessons from her son’s death.
‘I just want young people to talk,’ she said.
‘It is too easy to send nasty messages, especially on Snapchat. There is no evidence. It just disappears.
‘They need to understand the implications of it. I want people to know there is another way.’
Mrs Robinson said she hoped to spread the message to young people in schools, including Jack’s old high school.
Paying tribute to her son, she added: ‘Jack was a beautiful soul and friend to many. He would help anyone.
‘I have received a huge amount of messages saying he had helped other people with their confidence and to get help.
‘He just could not get it for himself. I wish he had reached out to anyone.
‘I hope whoever it was that was bullying him has got a conscience and learns from this and doesn’t do it to anyone else.’
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
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