The parents of a 15-year-old boy who killed himself after rumours circulated that he was gay have urged young people to seek help if they feel suicidal.
Dominic Crouch, a pupil at St Edwards School in Cheltenham, threw himself from a six-storey block of flats last May after returning from a school trip.
An inquest in Cheltenham this week heard that pupils played spin the bottle on the four-day art trip and there were rumours that Dominic had kissed a boy.
In suicide notes found in his pockets, Dominic wrote that he had been bullied a lot and that fellow pupils had been making up rumours about him.
Speaking after the inquest, his father Roger Crouch said his son, who was straight, had been “deeply upset” by the gossip.
He and his wife Paola said: “Can we repeat what we said at Dom’s funeral to young people – if you ever find yourselves in a similar position then talk to someone before you make a mistake from which you, your family and friends will never recover.
“We now want to rebuild our shattered lives, support our daughter Giulia through university, even though we know that we will never again know the joy that Dom’ brought to all of us for the 15 years of his life.”
Dominic, a keen rugby player, left school at lunchtime on the day of his death and went to a nearby block of flats. He gained access to the roof through a trapdoor.
Mr and Mrs Crouch said that more should be done to restrict access to high spaces and criticised his school for failing to notice he was missing from afternoon classes.
The couple added that schools must look out for signs of depression or bullying in pupils.
They said: “Dom was clearly upset by rumours he believed were being spread about him and we need to recognise that what may seem like a laugh to one young person can be deeply upsetting to another.
“We feel that schools need to be much more watchful to the spreading of rumours or gossip about their pupils and teachers need to intervene when pupils seem upset or distracted.”
The couple also called for better monitoring of youth suicides to help prevent future tragedies.
They said: “We have been struck since Dom’s death by the number of young people in this county who for whatever reason feel driven to take their own lives.
“Yet the deaths of young people who take their own lives are not systematically monitored or even recorded by the NHS and other agencies. If we don’t know the scale of the issue then it is very hard to have strategies in place to prevent future deaths. The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board needs to look seriously at the issue of suicide by young people and what can be done to prevent it.
“We believe that more needs to be done to educate young people about the reality of early death by suicide and the impact that it will have on them, their family and friends.”
The 15-year-old had sent a text to emergency services warning that he was going to kill himself shortly before he jumped from the roof.
However, the service is designed for deaf people who have registered and his message did not go through to an operator.
Mr and Mrs Crouch described this as the “single most upsetting thing to come from the inquest”.
Dominic’s family are raising money in his name for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund which supports children in South Africa.
To donate to the cause, click here