A TALENTED school student took his own life after he was egged on by a social media group, an inquest has heard.
Lucas Webb, 16, was found dead just one day after he was reported missing in a woodland near Canterbury on December 13, 2020 – dying from asphyxiation.
But, prior to his disappearance, it is believed that Lucas had already raised the prospect of suicide and even discussed it on a social media platform between a group of classmates.
The inquest heard from investigator DS Anthony Welch who said screenshots of messages he had seen from the group indicated Lucas was unhappy and had “intent and a plan” to take his own life.
He also displayed an in-depth knowledge of various suicide methods, and told friends not to mention his plan.
“There was a degree of egging on, while others were saying he should speak to his parents,” DS Welch said.
However, he ruled out third party involvement.
The inquest also heard that Lucas had previously been among a group from school who had been engaged in an apparent suicide pact with a classmate.
After the group were seen heading to a site where the alleged suicide was to take place – a concerned pupil alerted a school male school teacher who quickly rushed to the scene.
He found the group of about five boys walking back towards the school – eventually speaking to the pupil in question – who said he had “only been joking.”
Lucas's parents said they only became aware of it five days after his death.
Coroner Joanne Andrews later told the inquest that Lucas was feeling down because of the effect of the pandemic lockdown, but there were no other indications as to why he would have taken his own life.
His mother told the Maidstone hearing: “He had life mapped out and even talked about marriage, mortgages and even pensions,' she said.
She went on to explain how her son was a “bright academic” and had just received near-perfect GCSE results.
She said the mental impact of his death on the family had been “horrific.”
“We never saw this coming and are devastated we never had the opportunity to help him," she concluded.
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
The family's QC, Mr Gritt, said he believed the school's safeguarding policy was “weak, lacked clarity and was, at best, only hesitant.”
But, in recording his death as a suicide, coroner Joanne Andrews said she was satisfied it was his intention.
In a concluding statement the coroner said: “I would like to start by saying how grateful I am for Mrs Webb's statement.
“What happened was understandably a terrible, terrible shock for the family, I can only offer my personal condolences at this time.
“My conclusion is that Lucas died by suicide, and that he took the actions he did that day with the intention of ending his life.”
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.
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