Girl’s death ’17th suspected suicide’
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Another teenager was found dead today in an area blighted by teenage suicides. The death of 16-year-old Jenna Parry is the 17th suspected suicide involving young people from the Bridgend area of South Wales in the past year.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Morris told reporters at a press conference in the town that Jenna’s body was found at 7.45 this morning on the common at Cefn Cribbwr.
“She had apparently taken her own life,” the officer said.
He said a review into teenage suicides in the county borough area was on-going but added: “We have found no suggestion of any suicide pact.”
The youngsters all used social networking websites, such as Bebo and MySpace.
But Mr Morris said: “We haven’t found any suggestion of a link or influence through those sites.”
He added: “What we have found is that these are vulnerable young people, and taking one’s own life may be becoming an acceptable option to young people for issues that they are facing.”
At the same press conference, the parents of 15-year-old Nathaniel Pritchard, who apparently committed suicide last week, blamed their son’s death on media coverage of the suicides in the Bridgend area.
Nathaniel’s mother, Sharon, said: “Media coverage put the idea into Nathaniel’s head.”
Sitting beside Nathaniel’s father, Vincent, Mrs Pritchard said: “We have lost our son and media reporting of this has made it an incredibly difficult time and more unbearable by intensive media coverage.”
Nathaniel died in hospital after “harming himself” last week.
His cousin Kelly Stephenson, 20, was found hanged hours later while on holiday in Kent.
Mr Morris said there appeared to be a “constellation of factors” that had influenced these young people to take their own lives as individuals, not as groups.
These, he said, included relationship break-ups, friendship issues and family problems.
“I would like to put to bed any suggestion within the media that we are investigating suicide pacts or suicide internet links,” he said.
Mr Morris said a number of the deaths were still awaiting an inquest and he could not comment on the latest four deaths.
He said: “We are speaking to young people in Bridgend and what we are getting from them is that the media is starting to contribute to their thoughts in terms of how they feel, pressures they are under and Bridgend becoming stigmatised through the media.”
He told reporters: “If you ask me what is the link since Natasha Randall’s death, it’s you the media.”
Earlier, Nathaniel Pritchard’s mother described media coverage both before and after her son’s death as “extremely intrusive”.
She said: “We did not wish to speak to the media about our son’s death but feel that we have to, not just for our family but other families in the Bridgend area who have lost loved ones suddenly.”
Mrs Pritchard said: “We feel (the) media’s coverage could trigger other young people, who are already vulnerable and feeling low, into attempting to take their own lives.
“Media coverage put the idea in Nathaniel’s head. We feel he was influenced by media coverage.
“We feel it has glamorised ways of taking your life as a way of getting attention without fully realising the tragic consequences.
“We never believed his death was linked to other deaths and never believed there was an internet pact. We are certain it never had anything to do with living in Bridgend.”
Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Assembly Member for Bridgend, said the reporting of the deaths had created “a real sense of fear” among many parents.
He told BBC News 24: “I’ve had many people contact me in Bridgend who have got teenage children who are immensely worried, who are saying, ‘well, this might happen to our kids, we’re very worried, we don’t know what to do’.
“It’s important that people get in touch with groups like the Samaritans. It’s important to talk to teenage children and to try to listen to what they’re saying on the streets.
“But that’s been the effect – it’s created a real sense of fear amongst many parents, not just in the Bridgend county borough but further afield.”