TRIGGER WARNING: The Bridgend suicides is a serious topic, and this article addresses mental health, suicides, and self-harm; reader discretion is advised.
From 2005 to 2013, the American social networking service Bebo was in operation.
And Bebo was a place for millions of teenagers (after Myspace but before Facebook) to share images, gossip, and pass the long hours of boredom that come with growing up. Young people in Bridgend, Wales, were not an exception.
The authorities were concerned that there might be an internet suicide cult in 2007 when there was an abrupt and unexplained rise of suicides in a small Welsh town that accidentally became the subject of media conjecture. Many of the cases included social networking sites, particularly Bebo.
And as a result, Bebo came to be associated with suicide, which may have been the final straw for the website and led to its eventual death.
Several suicides shared an odd trait, leading to cult behavior rumors. Many of the murders that featured hangings were discovered with the victims kneeling or at least with their feet on the ground, which stoked rumors about cults, and some even went so far as to say that a serial killer was responsible.
The media has distorted public perceptions of suicide, mainly hanging.
People on TV will stand on a chair while holding a thick rope, typically hanging from a banister or rafters, and then kick the chair out from under them.
In Shawshank Redemption, Brooks Hatlen commits one of the most well-known movie suicides. The inability to adjust to life outside of prison leads Brooks to stand on a table, tie a rope around a rafter beam, and hang himself. He then rattles the table, causing it to collapse under him.
But because of how hanging is portrayed in the media, many people now picture this when they think of someone hanging themselves.
However, in kneeling or suspended suicides, the victim merely lets their body go limp, which causes the oxygen supply to the neck to be cut off, resulting in unconsciousness and, ultimately, asphyxiation. It takes a long time and lacks the dramatic impact of someone flailing around on a rope when shown on television.
How many people committed suicide in Bridgend?
In an effort to stop imitators, the Police requested in 2010 that the media stop covering the suicides in Bridgend.
However, despite what was essentially a media blackout, at least 79 people are believed to have committed suicide in the area between January 2007 and February 2012, although many locals believe the number is closer to 110.
This information comes from an article in People magazine published on May 14, 2012.
Since many of the fatalities were friends, Dr. Arthur Cassidy suspects there may have been a suicide pact among them. Bridgend’s MP backed up this notion by stating that social networking sites were “romanticizing” suicide among young people. Although the victims ranged from 13 to 41, young adults comprised most of them.
The town’s coroner, Phillip Walters, was “desperately concerned” about the string of suicides and their link to youth social networking sites like Myspace and Bebo.
No one appears to be able to explain these fatalities, and we never managed to get to the bottom of them. The fact that some of them appear to be occurring for no apparent reason is extremely concerning.
To determine whether there is a connection between social networking sites and the rising number of young people killing themselves, I will personally be looking at them. Welcome to today’s article in Morbid Curiosity.
The Dark History Behind the Bridgend Suicides
Some individuals enjoy a good conspiracy, just like any inexplicable event or mystery.
Many people began seeking alternative explanations, and super-sleuths turned to online forums to exchange ideas.
Some even traveled to Wales to gather proof on their own, which was obviously unpopular with the locals who wished nothing more than to be left alone to mourn and for the media’s unwarranted attention to stop.
Serial killers, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), frequently prescribed antidepressants, and HAARP (High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), a little-known U.S. military defense project that sparked considerable controversy for its purported weather control capabilities, have all been proposed as potential causes.
Some individuals think that the surroundings must have caused the behavior, and they connect the self-destructive behavior in Bridgend to that of Ursula and Sabina Eriksson, who tried to commit suicide around the same time but 117 miles apart, in the area of Keele, close to Stoke on Trent.
For those unaware of the circumstances, the Eriksson Twins rose to fame when their troubling behavior was caught on camera and presented to millions of viewers on the BBC program Traffic Cops and the 2010 BBC documentary Madness in the Fast Lane.
Security footage from May 2008 captured the two sisters strolling erratically down the busy M6 motorway’s middle reservation. When they attempted to cross the crowded highway, a red SEAT León vehicle struck Sabina.
As police, highway agency personnel, central motorway police, and camera operators from the Traffic Cops program trailing the unit proceeded to the area, concerned motorists began dialing emergency services.
The scene seemed to be quiet when the police came. The sisters were smoking cigarettes and joking around with them as they stood by the side of the highway.
Ursula suddenly runs into the road in front of moving traffic, and the officer next to her reaches out to grab her coat to save her from being struck by cars.
Fearful onlookers watched as the police struggled to stop the woman from fleeing into the road. Still, as she struggled to free herself from her coat, she ran directly into the path of an approaching vehicle that was estimated to be traveling at 56 mph.
Sabina jumped onto the road in front of a Volkswagen Polo, which hit her. She smashed into the windscreen seconds later, as the onlookers were still in disbelief over Ursula being struck by a truck.
Ursula, her identical sister, is lying in the road, her legs crushed by the truck that just ran her over. She is spitting and shouting at the paramedics attempting to treat her wounds.
When the air ambulance arrives, Sabina immediately begins kicking and spitting at the police officers attempting to assist her as she begins to regain consciousness.
“I recognize you; you’re not genuine,” Ursula screams. Her sister responds by screaming. “They’ll take your organs!”
While yelling, “Why do you kill me?” and shrieking that the police were already present, Sabrina appears unable to realize they were already there. She punches a police officer in the face and runs back into the road.
When she squared off with the police officers encircling her, emergency personnel and numerous bystanders helped restrain her and carry her to an awaiting ambulance, where she was detained and drugged. It required six people to be able to control her.
Ursula underwent immediate surgery and recovered from her wounds. She was detained for three months for an evaluation after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Sabina was detained but freed a few days later without undergoing a thorough mental health assessment. Video of Sabina in the police station reveals a drastically different behavior from her ominous antics on the M6.
She is seen laughing and joking with the police while also saying one unsettling phrase that would eventually take on darker connotations:
“In Sweden, we like to remark that accidents rarely occur alone. Usually, one or two more come after that.”
Sabina never inquired about her sister Ursula while she was being held in detention.
Less than 24 hours after being freed from custody by the police, Sabina proceeded to fatally knife paramedic Glen Hollinshead, age 54.
However, the strangeness doesn’t stop there either. Sabina was apprehended fleeing after the stabbing by neighboring CCTV. She was beating herself in the head with a hammer that she was carrying. When a passing driver observed this, he or she decided to charge toward her in an effort to seize the hammer.
Sabina struggled against him, yelling as she pulled a roof tile from her pocket and hit him in the back of the head. Medics had located her by this point and were pursuing her. Sabina broke her ankles and fractured her skull when she fell from a 12-meter (40-foot) high bridge onto the A50, stopping the chase at Heron Cross.
She was taken to the hospital after surviving this ordeal before being detained and prosecuted.
Both the prosecution and the defense argued that Sabina was sane at the time of her trial but mad at the time of the murder of Mr. Hollinshead. Eriksson was diagnosed with “folie à deux” “secondarily,” according to her defense attorney.
It was an unusual disease where Ursula, the “principal” suffering in this instance, was affected by her twin sister’s actual or perceived presence.
Because of her mental condition, Nottingham Crown Court accepted her plea of manslaughter. Justice Saunders, the judge, found that she had a low level of culpability for her actions and gave her a 5-year sentence for the murder of Glen Hollinshead.
Without being charged, Ursula went back to Washington State in the USA.
The whereabouts of Sabina, who was long ago released from prison and is believed to have returned to Scandinavia, are unclear.
Their peculiar behavior has never been fully explained, but the ideas attributing their weird behavior to shared insanity appear to be the most convincing.
Others have hypothesized that the Wales Pyramid Ruins discovery may be related to the suicides in Bridgend.
There have also been claims that there may be connections between the testing done in 1986 on the Greenham Common Peace Camp, TETRA, phone masts, the MOSQUITO System, and even energy-efficient lightbulbs.
In the area of Bridgend, several prehistoric burial mounds have been discovered, indicating that the region was inhabited before the Roman era.
The South Wales Valleys’ coal finding significantly influenced the community. The earliest coal mining operations began in the 17th century north of Bridgend. While Bridgend itself never had any coal reserves and for a while just functioned as a market town, the valleys of the three rivers developed into a significant component of the South Wales coalfields.
What is now Bridgend County had about 6000 residents in 1801. With wealthy valleys to the north, a vibrant neighborhood, and good access to other towns and cities, Bridgend was a bustling market town.
Bridgend, formerly a part of Glamorgan, has grown significantly in size since the early 1980s; as of the 2001 census, the town had a population of 39,429 people.
But by 2006, not much was left in the town for teenagers and young people to do for entertainment—even the neighborhood bowling alley had shut down. To pass the time, many of them turned to alcohol and narcotics.
It became such a problem that the Bridgend Council established its first alcohol-free zone in 2008 to help deal with alcohol-related difficulties, limiting the consumption of alcohol to bars, clubs, and other licensed establishments in the town center.
Most Suicidal Places in Uk: Bridgend
People who knew Dale Crole, 18, characterized him as a “rebel” and “a laid-back, happy-go-lucky youth with no fear, and he was “not terrified of anything,” according to people who knew him.
Dale was a minor offender who passed the time by consuming drinks, smoking marijuana, and doing narcotics.
When Dale first came in with his mother after being released from a juvenile offender institution in March 2006, she informed him he needed to find employment if he wanted to remain with her.
He opted to move into a bedsit rather than seek employment. He eventually moved in with his father, but they frequently argued due to their tense relationship and issues with housing benefits.
While it was possible for someone who had been discovered unconscious after combining booze and medicines three times to pass away too soon, this was not his end.
In September 2006, after leaving his mother’s house to visit his best friend David “Dai” Dilling, Dale vanished, prompting a thorough police search for him.
On January 5th, 2007, Dale was discovered by police hanging in an abandoned warehouse. Little did they know that this would just be the start of a long nightmare.
At least 21 young people, many of whom knew one another, died by suicide over the course of the following 18 months.
Bridgend Suicide Names: The Victims of the Bridgend Suicide Cult
A few weeks after his closest friend Dale’s body was discovered, Dai Dilling, 19, committed suicide on February 18, 2007, in what police characterized as an apparent copycat suicide.
According to Dai’s stepfather Christopher Claypole, David was saddened when Dale passed away. “They were so close that he referred to him as his brother. We know Dale was on David’s mind when he hanged himself.”
The following week, on February 25, Dai and Dale’s close buddy Tom Davies, age 20, committed suicide. He was also horrified by Dai’s suicide and bought a suit to go to his funeral, but two days before Dai’s ceremony, he was discovered hanging from a tree.
Melanie Davies, Tom’s mother, said she had discussed the passing of her son’s pals with him: “He was pretty distraught about Dai since he went to school with him.” I asked him if you wouldn’t do that to me.
“I wouldn’t hurt you, ma’am; I’d never do anything to you,” he had declared. “I believe he killed himself a few days later.”
Shortly after, a murmuring rumor started. The rumors’ claimed that a group of young people had made a deal to choose who goes next by drawing straws were horrifying.
On April 6, Allyn Price, 21, of Maesteg, South Wales, was discovered hanged in his bedroom.
Allyn Price’s body revealed evidence of amphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, diazepam, and morphine in it, according to the initial inquest. The inquest learned that Allyn had changed and been “short-tempered” in the six months before his passing after returning from his vacation in Mexico.
His girlfriend, Alisha Austin, had called him the evening of his death and said she wanted to talk about their “relationship troubles.”
It had previously been, in her words, “amazing,” and they had been together for five years.
“I told him I was going on vacation with my mother, and we would see how we felt about each other when I got back,” she added. Allyn appeared pleased with it. Allyn declared he would appear in court after damaging his friend’s girlfriend’s vehicle.
“I have nothing to live for,” he said to me. I assured him that I would support him. He appeared to be well, but his father discovered him hanging an hour later.
On the day of his death, according to his father, Gwynfor Price, his son went back and forth between the house and garage at the back of the family’s home on Salisbury Road in Maesteg.
Around 7.30 p.m., he observed his son in the kitchen putting a plaster on a wound on his hand; a short time later, he discovered him hanged.
Allyn used cocaine and ecstasy, and his brother Darren testified in court. The amphetamine MDMA, cocaine, and morphine were all detected in tiny amounts in Mr. Price’s body, according to pathologist Alan Rees.
A suicide finding required “clear intention,” according to coroner Philip Walters. “But clearly, there was nobody else directly involved in Allyn’s death,” he wrote in the short narrative verdict.
According to the coroner’s report, Mr. Price killed himself while using drugs, which “may possibly have influenced his mood and judgment.”
Since Anthony Martin didn’t know the other victims and wasn’t connected, he is frequently left off of lists of interest to the media. However, his tale is just as significant as the others and should still be acknowledged.
Anthony was a disturbed child who had battled depression for many years. He lost his sister to cot death when he was four years old. Anthony saw his mother locate her and was severely traumatized by the event.
After he confided in a schoolmate, a rumor that he had murdered his younger sister quickly spread. This intensified the insults and slurs he had already been subjected to because of his English heritage.
As soon as he could, he dropped out of school, fled the family home, and began spending nights at friends’ places while taking drugs. Although Anthony was a caterer at the Sony facility, his depression worsened.
He unsuccessfully sought counseling from his general practitioner on several occasions. His mother grew more anxious when she realized how seriously ill her son was and how helplessly he could not receive it.
Anthony began self-harming and made two overdose suicide attempts.
He was told he didn’t meet the requirements when he was admitted to Bridgend Hospital and was consequently dismissed.
After his initial attempt, he saw a psychiatrist, who informed Anthony’s social worker that “Anthony was okay, and he didn’t need any help,” in his mother’s words.
Sadly, Anthony was not treated as a risk and did not receive the assistance he required. As a result, on April 26, he added his name to the list of statistics for the National Health Service. The services had failed him. Miserably.
The next on the list was James Knight. On May 17, James Knight was discovered hanging from a cupboard in his bedsit.
According to Det Sgt. Gareth Morgan, there were no suicide notes or indications of drug misuse.
An administrative assistant named Joanne Roch stated that she dated James for roughly three years and that the relationship ended on shaky ground.
They first connected at a pub birthday celebration the evening before his death was discovered. “He wanted to discuss our relationship, but I told him it would be best to wait till we weren’t both inebriated,” she said.
According to Joanne, the party continued at a house, but James was left out because the other guests didn’t want any disturbance.
Joanne claimed that she texted him the next morning and that evening while at the party but received no response.
According to testing, Mr. Knight had consumed the equivalent of three and a half times the legal drink-drive limit, according to consultant pathologist Dr. Philip Brumwell.
In writing a narrative verdict, Bridgend coroner Philip Walters stated that he was confident alcohol had seriously impaired the 26-year- old’s judgment.
The coroner stated, “I am sure he did not mean to kill himself, even though the man was discovered in a cupboard and had a belt around his neck. That is my opinion.”
22-year-old Leigh Jenkins, who lived four doors from Allyn Price, had been devastated by the latter’s passing 58 days earlier.
A statement made by Ryan Price was heard aloud at the inquest. On June 2, he claimed, he went to a friend’s house to watch a rugby match on television and met Leigh Jenkins there.
Despite knowing Leigh through acquaintances, Ryan claimed he never went out drinking with him. After the game, Ryan claimed he invited Leigh and a few other friends to his apartment at around 7 o’clock to split a half-bottle of vodka among themselves.
Leigh, according to him, appeared upbeat at first but later in the evening, after using the computer and discussing his friend “Dicey,” (Allyn Price) death, he got emotional. Leigh reportedly passed out at a computer, according to the inquest.
When Ryan returned in the early hours of the 7th after taking a short break, he called Leigh’s name but got no answer.
Ryan added, “At first, I thought he was kidding, but then I noticed something coming from the top of my window, and it was on Leigh’s neck. “I believed it to be a bungee rope, but I wasn’t certain. Leigh’s face felt cold to the touch when I placed my hand out the window and felt it.”
Leigh was reportedly cut down and put out on the roof outside Ryan’s window after Ryan stated he contacted an ambulance and followed their advice.
In a statement read aloud to the inquest, Leigh’s mother, Beverley Jenkins, claimed that her son had visited a doctor about depression when he was 19.
Leigh visited his doctor once again regarding stomach aches and palpitations around a year before his passing. During the examination, it was discovered that he had high blood pressure and a shrinking, damaged kidney.
Beverley said that Leigh had been deeply affected by the passing of Allyn Price, his best friend. He had to keep the light on at night since he couldn’t sleep.
She testified at the inquest that her son was consumed by visions of his friend’s face in the latter weeks of his life and had expressed a wish for them to “be together”; in addition, all he could think about was dying.
Leigh, according to her, had just started working on the LNG pipeline in West Wales with his father, but he visited his friend’s grave every day when he was back home. Later, Leigh was prescribed medication to treat his depression and aid with his sleep.
Beverley claimed that because her son enjoyed partying and staying out late, she didn’t worry when he failed to come home on the evening of June 2.
Beverley recalled, “I heard a knock at 6 a.m. on Sunday, June 3rd, and looked out the window expecting to see Leigh instead saw police officers.”
After learning that Leigh Jenkins had been driving while intoxicated three times the legal limit and was also using illegal amphetamines at the time of his death, Bridgend Coroner Philip Walters entered a narrative verdict.
According to Mr. Walters, Leigh Jenkins hanged himself while under the influence of alcohol, MDMA, and MDA. The cause of death is asphyxia from a ligature around the neck.
Other Bridgend Deaths
At the inquest, Ricky Tovey testified that on August 10, 2007, the group he was hanging out with purchased 24 cans of Carlsberg lager.
“We drank them at the recreation area,” a 16-year-old added. We finished everything there and stayed there till 12.40 am.”
He claimed that at 6.45 p.m., they and four other friends went to a recreation center in Bridgend’s Sunnyside neighborhood, where they consumed alcohol until 12:40 a.m. the next morning.
Then, he claimed, they made their way to the Brackla neighborhood, where they grabbed a pint from a bar before being pursued along the street. After that, the gang headed to a takeout restaurant for fried chicken, but when the cops arrived to handle the disturbance, they fled again.
Ricky responded, “No,” when asked if Zachary Barnes, who was with him that night, had appeared different. However, he added that he remembered seeing him on a wall with a T-shirt around his neck.
Ricky claimed he couldn’t recall returning home, but he texted Zachary’s father the next morning to make sure Zachary was safe and well.
We had become separated on the way back to the Barkla estate, and when Ricky woke up, he texted his father to check on him and see if he was okay. His father confirmed that he wasn’t there.
Zach’s father, Paul, 49, called the police to report his son missing after speaking with Ricky.
The officer who responded to the missing person complaint, PC Mason, testified at the inquest that she had spoken to the family that morning.
But soon after, a neighboring resident called the police to report that they had discovered a man on his knees hanging from their washing line by a T-shirt around his neck.
The teen’s left forearm had up to 20 little linear scars, and his upper arm had three more recent marks.
According to PC Mason, she recognized Zachary’s body from images his family had provided her.
Zachary died of asphyxia from a ligature around his neck, according to Dr. Alan Martin Rees, who performed the post-mortem. Dr. Rees stated that he likely had lost consciousness “quite soon” in response to Zachary’s mother, Mandy, questioning whether he would have suffered.
Zach’s intention to commit suicide was not certain, according to coroner Phillip Walters. Recording a narrative verdict, he continued: “I must find convincing proof of intention before I can reach a finding of suicide. His level of intoxication may have impaired his judgment and mood.”
“Zach was incredibly special,” stated Zach’s mother, Mandy. “He was wonderful—so tender and considerate. He had a really strong personality. Was it a mistake or a joke? We are unsure. No one can get beyond this. It tore my heart apart.”
Zach was a happy, hilarious guy, according to Ricky. “I wonder why he did that.”
On August 23, 2007, truck driver Jason Williams’ fiancée Sian Davies discovered him hanging.
He was an “introvert” and a “very, very shy person,” according to Sian.
The heartbroken mother of Jason, Linda James, claims that the family has still not been able to determine the cause of Jason’s passing and that she still needs answers. Even though her son had visited her the day before he passed away, she claims she is upset that the police did not ask her to provide a statement.
“We are his family, and the police haven’t been here. He was here constantly. He visited twice a week to get his mail. He spoke to my friend and me when he came in on Wednesday. He arrived for food on the evening that he committed suicide.”
One day before his passing, Jason had spent time with his family. Louise, his sister, claimed she had laughed with him all night. “No trace of it could be found. He was giggling and making jokes,” the 19-year-old, who has given up on college since her brother passed away, claimed. “We’re not sure why. Nothing was wrong with him. He was content. Since his passing, we haven’t seen a police officer. We wished the inquest had heard our side of the story.”
However, they claim that reports in the national media about supposed suicide pacts have made the situation even more difficult. They agreed to speak out in the local Gazette. Louise remarked, “He wasn’t that type of boy; he was never on the computer or Bebo. There were no connections to any of the individuals.
“Those papers never inquired on our behalf. He was just included without their knowledge. When you constantly see his photo in the newspapers, it’s difficult. It continually brings it to mind for me. We have struggled because there was no justification for his leaving. Now, I want to live my life and my brother’s.”
“Mr. Williams’s death was extensively investigated, and a full coroner’s file was filed to the coroner’s office,” a South Wales Police spokesman said.
The inquest was informed that a post-mortem examination discovered evidence of back pain medicine but no other items that would have impaired his judgment.
“Unfortunately, this is one of those cases which I come across on a fairly regular basis where we can uncover, despite investigations by the police, no clear reason why this event has occurred,” Mr. Walters wrote in his verdict of suicide.
The Mystery of Bridgend Deepens
In September 2007, 20-year-old Andrew O’Neil was discovered dead, and it is thought that he committed suicide.
According to the inquiry results, Andrew’s death was the subject of financial threats.
His sister Charlene said in court that a gang urged him to start peddling drugs to pay off a debt to two lads who had been hunting for her brother and made threats to shoot him because he owed them money.
She claimed that in the three months before his death, Andrew discovered at an empty residence, had been acting “edgy and agitated.”
Mr. Walters, who noted that Mr. O’Neil’s family was “clearly close-knit,” recorded a verdict of suicide.
Andrew, who had run-ins with the law for relatively minor offenses, chose not to disclose the threats.
In his bedroom, 20-year-old Luke Goodridge was discovered hanged in November 2007. There isn’t much more information on this story to learn his account details.
Liam Clarke was discovered hanged in a park on December 27, 2007, just two days after Christmas. A dog walker near Liam’s Bridgend house found him in a play area.
Liam’s mother, Alison Clarke, said in a statement that her son was taking medication for depression and would act out anytime he neglected to take his pills.
She added that he attempted suicide at the age of 14 or 15 after a dispute over whether he could get his tongue pierced. When the tie broke, she claimed the attempt was unsuccessful. “We discovered that he started using cannabis and had a bad attitude. He had been problematic in recent months and would quarrel.”
Liam is depicted in the news article “Man hangs playground slide row girlfriend” in the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom.
After going to bed on Boxing Day evening, Mrs. Clarke claimed she heard her son and girlfriend enter the house from the bar. He was “going off on one” when Mrs. Clarke entered the bedroom after hearing Rachel sob. Her son reportedly screamed, “you’ll be sorry,” before storming out of the house.
His 19-year-old girlfriend was picked up by a taxi, and just after one in the morning, she received the text message that Mr. Clarke had also written to his mother: “Things in my life have gone lower than low. It’s great that you can say goodbye. I sincerely hope you remember this for the rest of your life.”
Rachel stated in a statement that she had known Mr. Clarke for 18 months and that they started dating after the growing close. She claimed the relationship was ‘on and off because they ‘constantly quarreled.’ He got irritable in the weeks before he killed himself, and they broke up so he could “sort his head out.”
They made plans to meet up on Boxing Day evening in Cefn Glas, Bridgend’s West House pub, where they spent the evening socializing. She claimed they left the bar at 2:30 a.m. and walked to his house.
As soon as we entered the bedroom, he began criticizing me and claimed that I had feelings for his friend, according to Rachel. We were arguing, so I got dressed, walked downstairs, and his mother called a taxi while I was upstairs.
She got a call the next day informing her that his body had been discovered nearby in Cefn Glas.
Mr. Clarke’s body was discovered just after 9 a.m. in a playground close to his home, according to Detective Constable Justin Lott of the South Wales Police. It was found hanging from the jacket sleeve that was fastened to the frame of a children’s slide.
At 9:40 a.m., paramedics declared him dead, and Mrs. Clarke and her husband, Kevin, were sent to the Princess of Wales Hospital mortuary in Bridgend to identify their son’s body.
According to DC Lott, no unusual circumstances were discovered throughout the investigation into the death.
Mr. Walters stated that he considered that Mr. Clarke had spent the evening drinking before ending his life, which had helped to impair his judgment while entering his narrative verdict, and determined that Mr. Clarke did not intentionally kill himself. “What I’m comfortable with is that I don’t believe for a second that he intended to kill himself.”
In January 2008, just after the new year, Liam Clarke’s friend Gareth Morgan, 27, was discovered hanging in Bridgend.
He had been drinking with pals the night before he passed away, but he wasn’t overly inebriated. Gareth texted his ex-girlfriend the night before he passed away and said, “I wish it never came to this. In the next life, I’ll see you again. X”
Gareth’s brothers Thomas and Christopher believed he had left the house. They entered his locked bedroom using a spare key to borrow a Wii paddle.
“Christopher walked in and discovered him in his bedroom,” his mother Lynda recalled. The younger brother entered after him.
Friends and family who knew Gareth stated he did not exhibit any signs of despair at the time of the incident. “He simply avoided discussing anything similar with anyone. There were absolutely no warnings.
“He was a very private person who kept many things to himself, but he was always very joyful. He felt a little sad about a failed romance the week before last. He cried for a few days, but he returned to work on Wednesday,” said Lynda.
The message said, “Mam, I’m sorry. I simply can’t continue. Spit out my love to Leanne. I cherish you. Love to you ~ Gareth.”
In his narrative verdict, Mr. Walters stated that drinking “would have influenced his judgment.”
On January 15, Natasha Randall, 17, left the following message on Liam Clarke’s memorial page: “RIP Clarky kid!! I’ll miss you! Remember the good old days!”
Messages have been left on Natasha’s website since she also killed herself by hanging herself two days later, on January 17.
“I can’t believe you did it, Tash, RIP.”
Another exclamation is: “Hey, Babe. I just wanted to say I released my balloon with a message and hoped you received it okay and found it amusing from above.”
According to doctors, women are much more prone to slice their wrists or use drugs while attempting suicide.
Leah Phillips, Natasha’s 15-year-old schoolmate, had discussed Natasha’s passing with her mother the day following her death.
Leah hanged herself from the banister after watching a SpongeBob SquarePants DVD with her nephew and putting him to bed later when both of her parents were away.
David Phillips, Leah’s stepfather, recalled: “When I got through the door, she was hanging from the stairs. I threw everything to the ground before raising her. I held her up and ordered Lewis, her eight-year-old cousin, to run and get the neighbor so he could revive her. I gave her a little CPR when we put her on the ground.
“Her eyes were beginning to turn black, and although she was breathing, it was extremely feeble. After I dialed 999, a team came and loaded her into an ambulance. I don’t know what would have happened if Lewis hadn’t been there since I would have had to let her go again.”
Leah maintains she doesn’t recall the event. She responded, “It doesn’t hurt,” when the doctor questioned her about why she had hanged herself.
She says nothing more about it beyond this.
She hanged herself once more a few weeks later, only for her elder brother to find her and cut her down this time. Her near-death experience did not appear to have discouraged her from trying again.
Leah also made an earlier effort in the summer of 2007 but failed because of a paracetamol overdose.
Leah’s mother, Tina, was “surprised” that she didn’t undergo psychiatric care after the initial incident because the hospital psychiatrist “thought she was sorry.”
Tina is realistic and understands her daughter’s actions, but she is upset with the media’s conspiracy theories. “I read the news articles. There is a web cult and everything else. Rubbish. Although we did have internet access, I removed it because the kids weren’t using it.”
Tina truly thinks Leah’s tries are the beginning of a challenging adolescence. Leah, according to her, is a recalcitrant daughter who won’t communicate with them.
Since she was 13, Leah had a history of running away from home for days, drinking, skipping school, and being her poor parents’ “nightmare.”
As Tina was concealing the letters from the head teacher, she found out that Leah had only gone to school for one full week between September and Christmas.
Leah allegedly makes suicide threats again when she is furious, according to Tina. She allegedly attempted to attack a kid who made fun of her for being unable to “she couldn’t even hang herself tidy (properly).”
The idea of losing Leah has been destructive for the entire family, especially her two brothers, who have struggled with the repeated threats and their sister’s behavior. One of her brothers once said, “I can’t take much more of this, Mam; I hope we can bury her right away,” at a particularly low point.
Tina consoles herself by saying, “she hasn’t threatened for a couple of weeks now.”
The day after Natasha passed away, another one of her (unnamed) pals similarly cut her wrists but lived.
On February 4, 2008, Angeline Fuller, age 18, killed herself by hanging. Although this statistic has not been verified, it was stated in the media that Angeline is at least the 34th person to die by suicide since 2006.
When Angie arrived in Bridgend two years ago, according to the couple’s friend Sarah Shaw, 32, the two came together.
She said that her lover had received treatment for depression and that Angeline had previously attempted suicide twice. “Joel discovered the bedroom door was locked and had to kick his way outside just to discover Angie dead on the landing,” Sarah recalled.
“We’re all really startled because the future was looking bright for them after they recently got engaged.” Although they occasionally acted quite adorably together, their relationship was extremely turbulent, and they frequently had heated arguments.
On the morning of February 14, 2008, 15-year-old Nathaniel Pritchard used MSN to chat with his ex-girlfriend. They had been dating for around eight months, but it had only recently ended. She informed him that she was now seeing someone else during this talk.
After urging the girl to leave with her new boyfriend and warning her, “I’m going to kill myself, and it will be your fault,” Nathaniel ended the discussion.
Shortly after, his ex-girlfriend called, so his younger brother, Connor, grabbed the phone and went upstairs, where he saw him hanging.
His parents took him to the Princess of Wales Hospital and put him on a life support system.
According to parents Vincent and Sharon Pritchard, the media “glamorized” ways for young people to end their lives.
Madeleine Moon, a local MP, claimed that the media “today contributes to the issue. We believe that the media coverage could lead other persons who are already depressed to commit suicide. We suspect Nathaniel may not have completely considered the repercussions since he may have felt it was a method to gain attention.”
His 20-year-old cousin Kelly Stephenson, who lived two doors down, was visiting her uncle in Folkestone, Kent, when she learned that her younger cousin Nathaniel had hanged himself in his Bridgend house. Nathaniel was put on a life support system.
According to friends, Kelly was told there was little chance Nathaniel would survive.
Kelly’s girlfriend, Aimee, said she was quite upset since Nathaniel was just a young child who loved his family, playing with his friends, and skateboarding. She kept stating she didn’t understand why he did it when we discussed it earlier in the day.
Several hours later, Aimee au-Yeung, a 22-year-old university student, received an “I love you” text message from Kelly Stephenson.
“Looking back on it now, I can see that the text message was Kelly saying goodbye,” a sobbing Aimee later stated. It was the final communication I had with her. “When I learned what she had done, I was completely taken aback because I had no idea Kelly could do so. She never once mentioned committing suicide. She frequently argued that suicide was a selfish and stupid choice.
“What she did was completely inappropriate.”
After informing her uncle that she was just popping to the bathroom, Kelly was discovered hanging from a shower rail.
It must have severely affected her and driven her to commit suicide, Aimee remarked.” But I didn’t know what she was thinking. She informed me that she had purchased a Valentine’s Day present for me, which she was eager to give me when she returned to Bridgend.”
Yesterday, police and officials in Bridgend argued that there was no connection between the hanging suicides.
However, Aimee corroborated that Kelly knew some of the earlier victims and had attended at least one of their funerals. “Kelly knew most of the persons who passed away socially and attended school with several of them. She was heartbroken by their passing, and we spoke about it frequently. Kelly was close with Liam Clarke, who committed suicide by hanging in December. Even though I didn’t know the girl, she had recently attended one of her friend’s funerals. I don’t believe such events contributed to her passing; Kelly killed herself because of what happened to her relative.
Jenna Parry was involved in a turbulent relationship with a young man. Her parents, Anne and Paul Parry were aware of the changes in her personality and behavior brought on by cannabis usage, but they were helpless to intervene.
Jenna was not a recurrent self-harmer, despite what the press had claimed. According to her mother, she only slashed her arms “once or twice” when she was younger and only because it was popular among the girls at her school.
Her mother said that her “two suicide attempts” had actually been cry-wolf drug-related incidents in which she had not put herself in danger.
The last time, she called her boyfriend to blame him after taking her entire package of antibiotics on New Year’s Eve, “which she knew perfectly well weren’t going to accomplish anything,” according to Paul.
Additionally, she experienced bullying at the training facility where she was studying to become a beautician. She was popular and attractive, but she struggled with severe body insecurity.
When she returned from [training] that day, she remarked, “Oh, Mam, I’ve had enough,” according to Anne. “He [The ex-boyfriend] has a new girlfriend, and I can’t tolerate the notion of him being with someone else. The boys are picking on me.”
On February 19, 2008, Jenna visited a friend’s residence, where she smoked some marijuana before going to see another acquaintance, who offered her some Valium.
Zachary Barnes and Natasha Randall were both people Jenna knew. She also had a buddy who lived in the apartment below James Knight and claimed to have heard the floor thud as James hanged himself.
Did those relationships have an impact on what she did? Her father, Paul, says, “I believe so. And the entire time it was on TV.”
All the parents were concerned, even me, says Anne. But Jenna and I continued to discuss it. I questioned how [Natasha] could harm her parents that way.”
Paul recalls, “I kept thinking, ‘Yes, she was low.’ “She’s been into a fight,’ but taking antibiotics on New Year’s Eve was much more like her. She enjoyed the drama and attention she received from everyone. However, I can’t picture her leaving alone and doing what she did.
“That wasn’t who she was. Without someone by her side, she wouldn’t cross the street. I believe she wouldn’t have even considered hanging if the other options weren’t so prominently presented.”
Anne adds, “And I think the medicines had a lot to do with that. She “wouldn’t have done it in her right mind.”
Michelle Sheldon, 23, was brought to the hospital on April 6. After being kept alive for three days, she passed away on April 9.
She traveled to the Bridgend area on Sunday, April 6, when she met her boyfriend, Steven Jay, according to Detective Constable Phil Colston at Bridgend Coroner’s Court. She attempted hanging herself that afternoon at around 5 o’clock and was brought to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.
Ms. Sheldon, according to Mr. Colston, was treated in the intensive care unit but passed away due to her wounds.
Sean Rees went missing on April 20, 2008, while out with friends and was found by his family in a path near Bridgend.
In Bridgend, Sean Rees was discovered hanging in a road behind a friend’s home.
Friends characterized Sean, a 19-year-old grocery employee, as “happy-go-lucky and usually smiling.”
Christopher Michaelides, a family friend, said: “This is awful, yet I can’t figure out why it happened.
“He was always so happy and had everything to live for. He was a very well-liked young man, had recently passed his driving test, and worked in a respectable position at Sainsbury’s. However, we are mourning the death of another young life in Bridgend. We never stop asking ‘why.’”
At 7.30 am, Sean was discovered in a path behind a friend’s home on the Bettws estate in South Wales. It is believed that before storming off, he argued with pals.
Christopher Jones, 23, who went by the moniker Whiskers growing up, passed away on May 4th, 2008, in the hospital after his father Alun discovered him hanging in the garage.
Rhian, who crushed his heart, is seven months pregnant. Devastated, Alun remarked: “We’re too grieved to say anything.”
“This is a catastrophe,” stated a family friend. “What a sweet boy Whiskers was. We need help understanding this. We can only speculate that he was anxious about having children and the responsibility that would bring.”
“I can’t believe it, Whiskers,” said Shaun Pope, 16, who lives two miles from Bridgend in Nantymoel, South Wales, close to the Jones family. “He never turned down a good laugh.”
Christopher, who co-owned an auto repair shop with his father, was found hanging on Sunday evening and passed away the following morning in the hospital. “He and his girlfriend had been together for nearly a year and were expecting a child. There are only approximately six weeks left for her. I believe that they were engaged, and he was considering migrating to Australia.”
He was simply a neat boy. Nothing unfavorable was said about him by anyone. In the valley, he is well-known.
According to Shaun’s mother, Pamela, he was always extremely kind and one of the best lads around. “He was fantastic. It came as a bit of a shock to me when I learned what had transpired. I didn’t anticipate him acting that way, but you never know what might be going through someone else’s mind.
“I have a 24-year-old son, so it would be a bit of a shock to think that your kid would do something like that, and you would have to track him down. This shouldn’t have happened to his mother and father because they have always made me feel welcome.”
The Jones family’s friend Wayne Parsons, 45, stated: “His parents will be devastated. They are a wonderful family, and Alun and I were childhood friends.”
One was still not safe from death despite being far from Bridgend.
To cope with his friends’ suicides, Adam Thomas, then 22 years old, and his fiancée Leah Powell traveled to Turkey for a vacation. Adam is claimed to have died following a drunken confrontation with Leah at the Litera Hotel in the resort of Icmeler.
Leah was really concerned about Adam because he didn’t seem to be getting over the suicides, and she had hoped the vacation would be a clean break.
Leah, 27, informed the police that several of her boyfriend’s acquaintances had died by suicide in Bridgend. Since he lost several pals in the past year who all committed suicide back home in Wales, “Adam has been suffering from depression,” she said.
According to a hotel staff member, they were both highly inebriated, screaming and shouting at each other at the bar. They continued arguing until they were outside in the street.
Staff believed the couple had reconciled when they returned to their room. However, they started arguing once more.
Mr. Thomas was injured in the attempt and brought to Mucla Hospital, where he later passed away.
The death toll continued to rise even after the media attention was cut off in an effort to stop imitation behavior.
A frequent motif in the Bridgend hangings is the Internet, along with drugs, alcohol, and inadequate coping mechanisms. Most victims were well-known Bebo users, and many left messages on the open memorial pages of individuals who died by suicide before them.
According to Ferdinand, 14, who lives next to one of the victim’s homes, “I’m sure they all knew each other. I knew six of them personally, and I’ve been on some of their personal Bebo pages, and they were talking about I don’t believe I can cope with it, and I’m going to end it, but I didn’t think they’d actually do it.”
“It’s like it’s the fad or something,” his friend George continues.
Local police have reportedly visited the houses of young individuals who have written potential suicide words on Bebo, and the website has been removing those postings, according to Frederick and other local children.
Sam Evans, a spokeswoman for Bebo, acknowledged that Bebo does take down memorial or profile pages for the deceased when their loved ones or law authorities ask them to do so.
“Bebo is collaborating with South Wales police to offer any help it can with the continuing investigation,” the statement reads.
Some newspapers began responding to claims that the media were to blame for suicides with articles like The Express Newspaper’s “Don’t blame the press for Bridgend.”
Of course, the press has been blamed for “glamorizing” suicide and inspiring copycat catastrophes, while others have pointed the finger at social networking sites. But what if Britain’s blame culture is actually doing more harm than good?
While blaming others may be therapeutic, it doesn’t address the basis of the issue, which points to social degradation and our failure to pay attention to Britain’s youth.
The fact that this region of the country has historically had an exceptionally high suicide incidence among people aged 16 to 29 has largely gone undetected by the media, even before the Bridgend-related media frenzy.
In reality, Wales had a five-times higher average suicide rate among 11 to 17-year-olds than England during the ten-year period between 1994 and 2004 (5 per 500,000).
Unsettlingly, these statistics only included coroners’ suicide verdicts and ignored open verdicts, frequently rendered when the victim’s death was deemed accidental and self-harm was committed as a cry for help.
Additionally, the rising death toll in Southern Wales does not include such overlooked teenagers as 15-year-old Jonathan Reynolds from Bridgend, who passed away on January 25, 2006, reportedly after falling in front of a train.
His body was discovered only three days after the death of Nathan Smith, 14, of Neath, a nearby town, who was discovered hanging in his residence.
Also from Neath, 13-year-old Laura Rhodes committed suicide in 2004 after making a suicide pact with a friend. Both females overdosed on medications, but Laura’s companion made it through.
The string of fatalities has forced organizations like PAPYRUS, a national charity dedicated to preventing juvenile suicide, to suspend all communication.
Stopping media coverage of the suicides in Bridgend is akin to turning a blind eye, according to some observers, and pretending they are not happening will only convey to the teenagers in South Wales that no one is paying attention.
It’s certainly appropriate to point fingers when someone is mourning, but before we do that, let’s take a moment to consider how Britain’s older and younger generations are now more at odds with one another.
Nobody seems to be able to comprehend the mindset of these kids, which shows that no one has taken the time to discuss the deaths of their peers, schoolmates, and online acquaintances with them.
Days after the funeral of Natasha Randall, her best friend, and a suicide victim from Bridgend, Rosanna Lewis attempted her life.
“I attended my friend’s burial, which gave me the courage to handle it myself. I reasoned that if she had done it, I could do it too, and I wouldn’t be the only one,” she said.
This type of death seems to be spreading in a community where the rate of teen suicide is frighteningly high. Similar to an epidemic, a remedy must be discovered, although it might be challenging to identify the signs.
Yet, Death continued to follow Bridgend’s citizens. After having difficulty coping with the deaths of his daughter Kelly, 20, and nephew Nathaniel Pritchard, 15, Dean Stephenson, 40, was found hanging in April 2009.
Just a few days before he passed away, Mr. Stephenson wrote on his Facebook page that his family was his greatest passion.
Michelle, a grieving widow, received support from her family yesterday after the triple family tragedy claimed the lives of her daughter, her nephew, and now her husband.
Education support specialist Michelle, 38, posted a heartfelt statement on her own Facebook page the day after her husband passed away: “I will love and miss you forever — care after our girl. I am aware that you had to be with her. We still had so much time together, so please don’t go, baby.
“You were the best husband and father anyone could wish for, and I will love you forever. Look after our girl; I know you must be there for her,” the post said. “I’m sorry I was powerless to ease your suffering.”
South Wales Police have continually ruled out a connection between any deaths.
However, police were looking into Mr. Stephenson’s death and awaited the findings of the post-mortem to determine the cause.
“We can confirm that a 40-year-old man from the Bridgend region passed away suddenly on Saturday, April 25. The circumstances don’t seem suspicious, and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”
In a narrative similar to Anthony Martin’s, Justin Beecham attempted suicide on February 26, 2010, in the same location where his best friend Tom Davies had died by suicide three years earlier. Justin Beecham was found hanged but alive and was transferred to Princess of Wales Hospital.
His initial attempt at suicide was to be this one.
Even though Justin hadn’t seen a psychiatrist and claimed to have voices in his brain ordering him to do “evil things,” a psychiatric nurse determined that he was low-risk and released him four hours after being found.
Justin had threatened to “drive his car into a wall,” according to Justin’s brother Jarred, who testified in court.
Justin was scheduled to see a psychiatrist the following Monday but was discovered hanging the night before.
Justin didn’t fulfill the requirements to be sectioned, according to representatives from the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend; nonetheless, he was given a chance to visit a specialist later that day but chose not to.
A week before his passing, Justin had a hernia procedure, and according to his mother, Elaine Beecham, his demeanor significantly changed during that period.
“Justin was cheerful, vibrant, and always laughing,” she testified at the inquest. “He was in a lot more discomfort than was anticipated after the surgery, became completely reclusive, and was no longer my kid. He stated that he needed assistance, so I assumed they would recognize a problem and keep him in so he could recover. But it didn’t take place.”
Jarred reported that Justin had begun using valium for his post-op pain. He had never used drugs previously. He was interested in working out and staying in shape. He often expressed his desire to leave this place and questioned why the suicide attempt hadn’t been successful the first time.
“Since A&E was overflowing, they could not find a psychiatrist, but I could see they were only interested in getting rid of him.”
Later, before going to his buddy Craig’s, Justin returned to his mother’s house.
When Elaine informed her son, “I’ll see you later,” Craig was instructed not to let Justin out of his sight. He responded, “No, you won’t.” When his girlfriend Ashleigh, who was sleeping with us, barged into my bedroom shouting that Justin would kill himself, I dialed 911, Elaine recalls.
The area surrounding their home was then desperately searched. Elaine vividly remembers the blaring blue emergency lights and the terrifying officer’s cry when he saw her kid pleading for a knife to cut him down from the tree.
But it was too late; Justin passed away in a hospital long after.
“He was across the street, but we believed he had gone to the scene of his friend’s death. After five minutes, I could hear the cops yelling at him to get down as they arrived. I last saw him alive at that point.
“Justin looked me in the eye and firmly stated that he would never kill himself when the American documentary crew shot in our home and asked him if he would ever commit suicide. I was so relieved that it seemed as though someone had taken away my anxiety.”
According to consultant forensic psychologist Dr. Tegwyn Williams, “I thought the A&E decisions were appropriate at the time. There are always things you could do more effectively. It was the right decision to let him return home. It is a tragedy now that hindsight has been granted.
The Gloucester 18, a moving cinematic documentary about young Gloucester females who made a deal to become pregnant, was written and directed by John Michael Williams. Williams never imagined he would make a film on the spreading suicide virus.
He was not welcomed when he went to Bridgend and stayed there for a month to look into the story. The villagers threatened him, and the police and government authorities refused to be interviewed by him, give a statement, or even confirm the number of dead.
In his documentary, he speaks with Justin Beecham, who gives much knowledge about the town’s misfortunes. Despite Justin’s repeated assurances that he wouldn’t kill himself, Justin was discovered dead from a hanging shortly after John departed Bridgend.
John also had a conversation with Michelle, who had been through an unfathomable tragedy when six of her closest friends and family members—her daughter, husband, cousin, nephew, student, and close friend—were discovered hanged over the course of a year.
Sociologists are still baffled as to why Bridgend became known as “Suicide Central.” Still, they concur that the fatalities occurred in an unusual cluster and were disseminated through behavioral contagion.
There have been similar occasions in history. For instance, 197 suicides were reported in the month following Marilyn Monroe’s death, most of whom appeared to have been young, blonde women who had used Marilyn Monroe’s death as inspiration for their own suicide.
Sentimental eulogies on social media may give young people the “license” to kill themselves.
Author and professor Jamie Bartlett examine the concept in his book, The Dark Net. It functions on an unconscious level. It does have an impact when people visit websites and see other persons who have committed suicide being admired by the neighborhood.
Although some people continue to encourage suicidal behavior online aggressively, most of it is much more covert. It involves the unintentional romanticization or glorification of behavior against individuals who are at risk.
Bridgend Documentary Netflix
These events were the subject of the drama film Bridgend from 2015 and the documentary Bridgend from 2013. In Wales, the 2015 movie was condemned as sensationalist, exploitative, and untrue since it featured scenes of neighbourhood kids skinny swimming in large groups and rejoicing in routine underage drinking.
We can all do our part to stop suicide. The Lifeline offers free, 24/7, confidential assistance to those in need, as well as information for you or a loved one in times of crisis and best practices for American professionals.
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