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BREAKING: Bebo Copycat Suicides in UK growing trend
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Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:20 am Reply and quote this post
Natasha Randall was 17, had a large circle of friends and was studying childcare when, without any indication that she was unhappy, she hanged herself in her bedroom.

Her death last Thursday was the latest in at least seven apparent copycat suicides in Bridgend, South Wales, that have alarmed parents, health authorities and police, who believe that they may be prompted by messages on social networking websites such as Bebo.

Times wrote:
Within days two 15-year-old girls, both of whom had known Tasha, as she called herself, had also tried to take their lives. One cut her wrists and was later discharged from hospital into the care of her parents. The other tried to hang herself and spent two days on life support before showing signs of recovery. Police have since visited the families of 20 of Tasha’s friends, urging them to keep an eye on their daughters.

In the 12 months before Tasha’s death, six young men from Bridgend and the surrounding area had killed themselves. Most were known to each other. This month Tasha attended the funeral of 20-year-old Liam Clarke, who was found hanged in a local park the day after Boxing Day.

Tasha had left a tribute to Liam on his Bebo webpage. It said:
“R.I.P. Clarky boy!! gonna miss ya! always remember the gd times! love ya x.”

After Tasha’s death police took her computer to try to find a reason for her suicide. They will also be looking for links to the other deaths.

Copycat suicides are a well-known phenomenon but in Bridgend the tributes left on websites such as Bebo appear to have had a significant impact. Friends have set up memorial pages where wellwishers have posted messages or bought virtual “tablets” in a remembrance wall. The 19 tablets on Tasha’s memorial page include the messages “RIP chick”, “Sleep Tight Princess” and “Sweet dreams, Angel”.

Times wrote:
David Gunnell, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Bristol, said that research had shown a connection between reports of suicide in the media and copycat deaths, and it was likely that discussions of suicide on websites would have a similar effect.

He said: “Young people are more likely to see and read items concerning suicide on the internet than they are in newspapers. One can extrapo-late from wider research on responses to newspaper reporting that a medium like Bebo will have an impact on suicidal behaviour in young people.”

South Wales Police fear that the reason could be simpler. One officer said: “They may think it’s cool to have a memorial website. It may even be a way of achieving prestige among their peer group.”

South Wales already had one of the worst suicide rates for young people. Tasha, who called herself “Wildchild”, was not the only one to spend hours each day on the internet in a world about which their parents knew little.

Even before she died a task force that includes represntatives of the NHS trust, school, police and local authority was investigating the high suicide rate. It is due to report in the next few weeks. Tegwyn Williams, the director of mental health services for Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust, said: “The key is to break down the stigma attached to suicide in the community so that people aren’t afraid to talk to someone if they feel depressed.”

Melanie Davies’s son, Thomas, was the third young person from the area to kill himself last year. Mrs Davies, 38, said: “One of his friends told me that they feel these kids seem to be copying each other . . . so many of them are hanging themselves.”

The friends who killed themselves

  • Dale Crole, 18, hanged himself at the Coney Beach funfair at Porthcawl, near Bridgend, January 2007
  • David Dilling, 19, a former classmate of Dale from Pyle, near Bridgend, hanged himself, February 2007
  • Thomas Davies, 20, who had been at school with both Dale and David, found hanged from a tree in David’s home village two days before his funeral, February 2007
  • Zachery Barnes, 17, of Wildmill, Bridgend, a friend of Thomas’s family, hanged with washing line, August 2007
  • Liam Clarke, 20, a friend of Dale, found hanged in a park in Bridgend, December 2007
  • Gareth Morgan, 27, who knew Liam, found hanged in his bedroom, January 2008
  • Natasha Randall, 17, of Blaengarw, Bridgend, a close friend of Liam, hanged herself in her bedroom, January 2008

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:20 pm Reply and quote this post
A coroner yesterday launched an investigation into the link between theinternet and young suicides - as an MP hit out at websites for"romanticising" teenage death.

Phillip Walters, the coroner for the town of Bridgend whereseven young people have hanged themselves in a year, fears the teenagesites such as Bebo play a part in the spate of mystery deaths.
Mr Walter said he is "desperately concerned" about the chain ofyoung suicides - and of the connection to teenage social network sitessuch as Bebo and MySpace.
The coroner said: "I shall be looking at these networkingsites myself to see if there is a link between them and the growingnumber of youngsters committing suicide.
"But in the meantime I want to warn youngsters about the possible dangers these websites can pose.
"I would also like to warn parents to be actively on the alertfor signs of their children being influenced by others on these sites.

"We never seem to get to the bottom of these deaths and no-one seems to be able to explain them.
"It is of great concern that some of them seem to be happening for no apparent reason."  
MrWalters has already held hearings into four of the young suicides -Dale Crole, 18, David Dilling, 19, Thomas Davies, 20, and ZacheryBarnes, 17.<&gt;

Concern: Coroner Phillip Walters fears teenage sites played a part in the mystery deaths

He opened inquests on the other three - Liam Clarke, 20, Gareth Morgan,27, and Natasha Randall, 17 - to await full police investigations intotheir deaths.
The small town of Bridgend has been rocked by this string of copycat suicides
Local people fear the hangings are linked to a chilling internet cult which has become "a cool thing to do" in the town.
Within 24 hours of the latest death last week, two friends of the teenage girl had also attempted suicide.
On Tuesday police took computer equipment from 17-year-old Natasha Randall'shome in Bridgend, South Wales.
Detectives confirmed they are investigating a possible suicidechain – the seven dead are all linked in some way although they did notall know each other.
Several of them posted personal profiles on the social networking internetsite Bebo.
Since their deaths friends have set up memorial sites wherethey can post messages and obtain a "virtual brick" in a "remembrancewall".
The deaths have raised new worries about the influence of the internet on young people.

January 5, 2008: Gareth Morgan, who knew Clarke, found hanged in bedroom
The police have private concerns that youngsters may consider itfashionable to have an internet memorial site and are killingthemselves for reasons of prestige.
Natasha's hanging was the seventh in Bridgend in a year.
The first to die was 18-year-old Dale Crole, who hanged himself and was found in a disused warehouse in January 2007.
The following month Dale's school friend David Dilling, 19, was found hanged near his village home.
Two days before David's funeral, another school friend, Thomas Davies, 20, hanged himself from a tree.
A friend of Thomas, Zachary Barnes, 17, was found hanged from a washing line a few months later.
Liam Clarke, 20, a close friend of Dale Crole
and a schoolmate of Thomas Davies, was the fifth victim.

December 2007: Liam Clarke, a friend of Crole's, found hanged in a park
He hanged himself in a park two days after Christmas.
Earlier this month, Gareth Morgan, 27 – who regularly drank with Liam – wasfound hanging in his bedroom.
Police and paramedics were called to Natasha's home in Bridgend, at 6pm lastThursday but she was already dead.
Natasha, who was in her first year studying Care and Childhood Studiescourse at Bridgend College, spent hours every day on her computer using thename "sxiildchild".
Suspicions of a possible to link to the internet grew after it emerged thatNatasha knew Liam Clarke.
On her internet profile she had posted a message reading: 'RIP Clarky boy!!gonna miss ya! always remember the gd times! love ya x'.
Last night it emerged that Liam also knew several of the other victims.

August 2007: Zachary Barnes, a friend of Davies' family, hanged with washing line

His father Kevin Clarke, 46, a heavy goods vehicle driver, said:"We just don't know what all this is about, it is very strange thatthere have been so many suicides in Bridgend and that they all seem toknow one another.
"We don't know if it is some weird cult or copycat suicides or if they have hadsome bizarre pact to kill themselves.
"We had no idea Liam was thinking of this, so we are in the dark about everything."
A taskforce has been set up in the town involving police, the NHS trust, schoolsand the council to draw up an action plan to stop the deaths.
Social networking sites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook have previouslybeen linked to a series of incidents
including episodes of grooming underagegirls, online bullying and identity fraud.
There have been numerous calls for increased monitoring of the networking phenomenon.

February 2007: Thomas Davies, found hanged from a tree two days before Dilling's funeral
The internet has also played a role in an increasing number ofsuicides, on specific sites dedicated to methods as well as chat roomswhere the subject is discussed.

Melanie Davies, whose son Thomas killed himself in Februaryfollowing the deaths of his friends Dale and David said: "It's like acraze – a stupid sort of fad.
"They all seem to be copying each other by wanting to die.

"Thomas would spend about three hours a night on the computer, talking to his friends.
"Like most parents, I have no idea how to get on these sites or what other kids are talking about.
"But I would warn other parents to beware and to keep a close eye on theirchildren.
"I have lost my son and it is the worst nightmare."

David Dilling's mother Teresa Claypole, 43, said she had "no indication whatsoever" that her son intended to kill himself.

February 2007: David Dilling, best friend of role, found hanged
She said yesterday: "David missed Dale so much. I often think of the two of themup in heaven meeting again."
Zachary Barnes's mother Mandy, 38, said: "Nobody can get over this – we can'tbelieve it's Zach.
"It doesn't fit with the way he was. For him to take his perfect life, that's agonising devastation."
The two friends of Natasha Randall who attempted suicide have recovered.
Four years ago two girls in South Wales arranged a suicide pact after becomingfriends via a chatroom.
Last summer a village in Northern Ireland was devastated by three teenagesuicides.
Rumours of a pact involving up to a dozen students swept Craigavon inCounty Armagh, Northern Ireland, when two boys hanged themselves afterattending the funeral of a third.

January 2007: David Crole, found hanged in disused warehouse
Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This isnot just happening in the town of Bridgend, it is happening across a15-mile radius.
"This is a small community. People know each other. Familylinks are very easily made and friendships are very easily made becausemost people tend to socialise in the evening in the town of Bridgend.
"What worries me is that when you start entering a virtualworld, as these young people are doing on this Bebo site, you lose thereality of loss, the actual consequences of what you are talking aboutand the horrible reality of death - in particular, the consequences onfamily and friends and the whole lack of a future for these youngpeople, which is absolutely tragic."
Ms Moon said she was troubled by suggestions that the suicidesmay have been motivated in part by the youngsters' ambition to featureon internet memorial pages.
Scroll down for more

Suicide capital of Britain?: The South Wales town of Bridgend

"It is absolutely bizarre to think that a memorial wall givesyou a reason for ending your life, cutting yourself off from a realfuture that would involve friends, family, marriage, building a home,building a career - all these real things that stretched in front ofthese young people - all for the ephemera of something on an internetwall," she said.
"It absolutely defies belief."
Ms Moon urged any young person considering suicide or anyone upset by the rash of deaths in Bridgend to contact the Samaritans.
They appeared to be linked by little more than their home town and a network of friends.
But within little more than a year, the six young men and one young woman, had all killed themselves.

1. DALE CROLE, 18, from Porthcawl, near Bridgend.
He went missing four months before his body was found.

He had only recently moved in with his father after being released from ayoung offenders' institution, but the pair were said to have a volatilerelationship.
Dale was unemployed, smoked cannabis and drank heavily.
He was last seen by his family on September 25, 2006.
His badly decomposed body was found on January 5, 2007, after he hanged himself in a disused warehouse at a local beach funfair.

2. DAVID DILLING, 19, from Pyle, a village near Bridgend.

David was the best friend of Dale Crole.
Known to friends as Dai, he told the inquest into his friend'sdeath that the pair regularly spent time together at the warehousewhere Dale's body wasfound.
The teenager was said to be very upset by his friend's death.
He hanged himself near his home in the village, in February, 2007.

3. THOMAS DAVIES, 20 from North Cornelly, Bridgend.

He was a school friend of the first two victims, but was particularly shocked by David Dilling's death.
Thomas had already bought a suit for David's funeral, but hangedhimself from a tree on February 25 – just two days before the service.
His mother Melanie,38, said he spent three hours a night on the Bebowebsite talking to friends and described his death as a copycatsuicide, a "craze".

4. ZACHARY BARNES, 17, of Wildmill, Bridgend.

Was a friend of Thomas Davies' family.
He left school to spend ten months working with animals at TheAmelia Trust Farm, near Barry, and intended to become a fitnessinstructor.
His parents Paul, 49, and Mandy, 38, have described the teenager as "fantastic, so loving and caring" and a "big personality".
His body was found in August, 2007, hanged from a washing line at a block of flats.

5. LIAM CLARKE, 20, from Bridgend, was a close friend of Dale Crole.

He worked as a sales assistant, and enjoyed playing football and pool.
On his blog, the tattooed teenager posted a number of pictures of himselfin combat gear and holding an air rifle, describing himself as "interested in having fun and gettin rect".
He hanged himself in a park on December 27, 2007.
6. GARETH MORGAN, 27, from Bridgend, was a friend of Liam Clarke and a father of one.

Described as a "gentle giant", the keen production operative was founddead on January 5, by his brother Christopher, 26 and stepbrotherThomas, 14, inhis bedroom at the family home.
His mother Lynda, 48, said he showed no signs of depression before his deathand had been drinking with friends the night before.
Gareth's daughter Maison, eight, lives with his former partner.

7. NATASHA RANDALL, 17, was also friends with Liam Clarke.

She lived with her father, Kelvin and stepmother Katrina in Blaengarw, Bridgend.
She studied Care and Childhood Studies at Bridgend College.
Known as Tasha. Natasha spent hours on her Bebo webpage using the name "sxiwildchild".

Last Thursday, she hanged herself in
her bedroom while her parents were downstairs.
The secret life of Natasha Randall was laid bare on an alarmingly candid web page.

At the click of a button you could discover her likes and dislikes,study revealing photographs, chat to her online and find out who wantedto have sex with her.

Yesterday that page became her virtual headstone.


Scroll down for more ...  
Victim: Natasha Randall was the seventh young person to kill themselves in Bridgend in a year

The 17-year-old college student's entry on her favourite socialnetworking site was overflowing with tributes to the latest victim ofwhat appears to be a bizarre chain of internet-chronicled suicides.
An online memorial wall of "virtual bricks" was started just hoursafter she was found hanged - and friends quickly began to cover it infarewell messages drawn on individual sections.
The fact that at least seven suicides and two attemptedsuicides might be linked in one area of Britain is a horrifyingprospect.
But equally disturbing is the possibility - voiced by police - thatyoung people may regard "virtual immortality" as the ultimate in cool.
To an adult unfamiliar with the peer status that celebrity onthe web can create, it might sound unlikely. But a few minutes spentbrowsing Natasha's page on "bebo", one of the leading social networksites, would horrify most decent parents.
And she was not alone. Her web page contains links to others in the so-called suicide circle, among them Liam "Clarkey" Clarke.
Scroll down for more ...

Networker: The 17-year-old mapped out her life on website bebo
Some of them clearly corresponded online. Most had pages on bebo orsimilar sites, such as Facebook or myspace. Yesterday they wereremembered in text-language style messages from friends and emailassociates - and eulogized on the "Gonetoosoon" web site, whichpromises "an everlasting tribute".
Tasha, as she called herself, headlined her page with thiswarning: "Don't play games with a girl who knows how to play thembetter."
She styled herself as provocative and daring, using the sign-on "sxiwildchild".

You have to keep reminding yourself when you read her page that she wasonly 15, according to her membership profile, when she set it up.
The amount of private and personal information she gives is staggering.
In the first few lines alone, we learn her date of birth ("Fellfrom Heaven 4 Dec 1990... blown out 17 candles"); the town where shelives; and, of course, her private email address.
There is a gallery of photographs, some featuring her in a low-cut blouse or posing in a crop-top on a playground swing.
Scroll down for more ...

Suicidecult: Clockwise from top left: Zachery Barnes, 17, Liam Clarke, 20,Natasha Randall, 17, Dale Crole, 18, David Dilling, 19, Gareth Morgan,27, and Thomas Davies, 20
Her invitation to potential on-line friends includes a questionnairethat poses only four questions before it asks: "Would you have sex withme?"
Then it descends into areas that should never be accessible to anyjuvenile with a fake email address, which, incidentally, is all ittakes to join bebo.
Likewise, some of the replies she receives are unrepeatable here. Aparent might reasonably question why T-Mobile, MTV, Ugg Boots andCapital One credit cards choose to be among the advertisers whoseproducts flash up on the site.

But it is the memorial tributes that tell the other half of Tasha's tragic story.
Almost exclusively, they are written in the crass, depressinglyfamiliar broken English of the text message and email generation - asare those appearing beneath the names of other Bridgend suicides. Thesemay give the flavour:

• From X-Baby Girl-X: "RIP tash - can't belive you done it!"
• From Sadie James (aged 17 and pictured in her bra): "Heyaa Babe. JustPoppin In To Say I Let My Balloon Off With A Message On It, Hope YouGot It Ok And It Made You Laugh up There."
• From Chelsea X: "Youur Inaa Bera Place Naww,, Away From All Thaa Hurt&Paiin. Sweet Dreams BabeS."

Last night 19 "virtual bricks" had been placed in Natasha's memorialwall, a brightly coloured page of individually inscribed "tributes".
One was ascribed to "JUNKiiE BUDDiiES" and featured a drawing of a syringe. "HaHa!", it read. "We Lovez it."


Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:17 am Reply and quote this post
that's the UK for you...
Contributed by AtariST, iVirtua Active Member
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