A 15-year-old boy in the town of Treorchy in Wales committed suicide after struggling to cope amid the U.K.’s coronavirus lockdown. Kian Southway posted a message on Snapchat saying “Goodbye everyone” before hanging himself in late March 2020. Despite his family’s intervention and medical treatment, Kian died four days after the suicide attempt.
Kian’s parents described him as a “talented kickboxer” who “loved school and … being out with the boys.” His 41-year-old mother Jolene Southway said: “Kian was bright, he was popular and he was a joy to teach.” Unfortunately, this would change after the government declared a lockdown in March of last year. Schools were ordered closed on March 18, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown five days after that.
During an inquest on Kian’s death, it was revealed that he had been missing school and his friends due to the lockdown. The inquest held at the Welsh town of Pontypridd was also told Kian was worried about being unable to take his examinations, and having to rely on predicted grades for his General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).
Furthermore, the hearing was also informed that Kian had a spat with a girl he had been close with before his suicide. The girl told authorities that both of them “were more than just friends” and she last saw Kian “the weekend prior to his death.” According to her, she only knew of what happened to Kian on March 27, when she “was forwarded a Snapchat story.”
Kian’s younger sister Darcey Southway also received the social media post after friends alerted her of it. Their parents rushed to check on Kian, but they found Kian hanged in his room. The young man was rushed to the hospital, but his condition worsened and he passed away on March 31.
Coroner Thomas Artherton concluded that Kian’s death was a suicide. “It’s tragic when a young person dies, but this is a greater tragedy when you take into account the circumstances of a young man with a loving family and close friends.”
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Jolene warned others about the dangers of lockdowns, which she experienced with the suicide of her son. “Kian wasn’t suffering from mental health issues [and] he wasn’t depressed. We need people to know how quickly this happens. I think he literally felt isolated from the world,” she said. (Related: Extended coronavirus lockdowns having severe negative effect on mental health of children – report.)
“We are a family you don’t expect this to happen to. Kian had the best life. [The lockdown] destroys people [and] families, it destroys everything.”
While the Wuhan coronavirus itself has directly killed many, the lockdowns to curb its spread also caused the death of those unable to cope with prolonged isolation. Mental health problems caused by being virtually imprisoned at home chooses no one – young or old, man or woman, rich or poor. (Related: Long coronavirus lockdowns causing people’s mental health to rapidly DETERIORATE.)
Shortly after the incident with Kian, two instances of lockdown-related suicides have been reported. Back in April last year, former police chief James Connelly Webster hanged himself after struggling to cope with the pandemic. His wife Maureen Webster said the 58-year-old became “paranoid and neurotic” while isolating himself for fear of passing the Wuhan coronavirus to his loved ones. She eventually found her husband’s lifeless body on April 1 inside the garden chalet where James was staying, at their Crackington Haven home in southwest England.
During an inquest, Maureen said she and James continued their tradition of having coffee together – which began back when they first met in London – even though he isolated himself. The family also ate socially-distanced meals and held Zoom meetings during his self-quarantine period. On the night before James took his life, the family held a socially distanced meal together – with James assuring them his thinking “was getting clearer” and he “would be out tomorrow.” But this would not be the case, as Maureen discovered her husband’s lifeless body the following morning. Webster’s death was eventually ruled as a suicide.
Later, 55-year-old financial adviser Nick Gunnell drowned himself in the River Ouse after the COVID-19 pandemic forced his business to close. Authorities found the York resident’s body 150 meters upstream from Scarborough Bridge after a six-day search. Based on CCTV footage, Gunnell was last seen going down to the riverside in the afternoon of June 30. The same footage also showed him “slightly unsteady on his feet.”
Assistant Coroner John Broadbridge said Gunnell left a note for his loved ones expressing regret and apologizing, with the words “COVID got me,” before he disappeared. Broadbridge continued that the pandemic negatively affected Gunnell’s financial advisory business and ruined what was supposed to be his year. Furthermore, the coroner said Gunnell had been suffering from anxiety and sleeping problems based on evidence.
Broadbridge subsequently recorded the financial adviser’s death as a suicide.
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