Elaine Beecham received the news she dreaded to hear: his son committed suicide. He was one of those who took their own lives in a small town in South Wales. Bridgend is haunted by disturbing wave of teen suicides.
According to Elaine, 20-year-old Justin showed drastic change in his personality. They got into silly argument one night and he walked out on her. He came back later and tossed the string of his bathrobe and shouted ‘Lucky for you, it snapped!’
Justin was brought to Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend and a mental health nurse came to his aid. He told the nurse that he had “voices in his head telling him to do bad things.” However, he was sent home after he was diagnosed as low risk. Since then, Elaine kept a round-the-clock suicide watch on him.
On February 27, 2010 he went out with his friends and came home at 1:00 in the morning. Elaine was not worried since his girlfriend was in his room waiting for him.
“Then just minutes later she burst into my room screaming he had taken his belt and was going to kill himself,” Elaine narrated. She called for help and when the police arrived they searched for him.
They found Justin hanging from a tree, the same spot where his best friend Tom Davies killed himself three years ago. Tom hanged himself from a tree two days before the funeral of another friend, David Dilling.
Since 2007 until 2014, the official number of suicide deaths was 79 but many believed it was more than what was reported. These teen suicides happened in Bridgend and what added to the phenomenon was the fact that the victims have been found hanging but with their feet on the ground or close to kneeling.
The outbreak of Bridgend teen suicides was speculated to be caused by an Internet cult. Once there was suicide, friends would put up a memorial page on social-networking site Bebo. Strangely, those who wrote loving eulogies ended their lives weeks later.
Psychologists suggested that the phenomenon was a Werther effect or copycat suicide. It was noted that there was an increased in teen suicide rate after media ran stories or after a friend perpetrated self-destruction. Police then asked the media to stop covering and reporting suicide cases in Bridgend.
In 2012, a documentary about the Bridgend alarming trend of suicides while in 2015, a movie was released but was not shown in UK.
Here are the list of Bridgend suicides:
Dale Crole, 18 Found hanged, 5 January 2007
David Dilling, 19 Found hanged at his home, February 2007
Thomas Davies, 20 Found hanged from a tree, 25 February 2007
Allyn Price, 21 Found hanged in his bedroom, April 2007
James Knight, 26 Found hanged at his home, 17 May 2007
Leigh Jenkins, 22 Found hanged, June 2007
Zachery Barnes, 17 Found hanged from a washing line, August 2007
Jason Williams, 21 Found hanged at home, 23 August 2007
Andrew O’Neill, 19 Found hanged at home, September 2007
Luke Goodridge, 20 Found hanged, November 2007
Liam Clarke, 20 Found hanged, 27 December 2007
Gareth Morgan, 27 Found hanged, 5 January
Natasha Randall, 17 Found hanged, 17 January
Angie Fuller, 18 Found hanged, 4 February
Kelly Stephenson, 20, from Bridgend, was found hanged on 14 February while on holiday
Nathaniel Pritchard, 15 Kelly’s cousin, found hanged, died 15 February
In 2010, eight young people committed suicide in the same manner.