Coroner concerned over availability of online information on suicide after death of depressed teen

A coroner has expressed concern over the availability of information about suicide on the internet after a 15-year-old boy took his own life on his last day at school.

Archie Cooper hanged himself at his home in Waterlooville, Hampshire, and died in hospital on June 24 2021 after telling friends that he “wouldn’t be here for long”, an inquest in Portsmouth was told.

Coroner Christopher Wilkinson said the teenager, who was set to go to college to train as a mechanic, had been suffering from depression and had used his mobile phone to research methods of suicide.

He also said that Archie would listen to the music of rapper XXX Tentacion, whose songs focus on depression and alienation.

The inquest heard that teachers at Purbrook Park School, which Archie attended, had been made aware that he had self-harm marks on his arms but he had not wanted to talk about any of his problems.

Teacher Erin Stott said in a statement read to the hearing that there were no other signals to raise concern about Archie and added: “Archie could be characterised as a ray of sunshine and his death has come as a terrible shock to us all.”

She added: “He was a lovely boy. He wasn’t the most academic, but he would try to give answers with real meaning, and he was always laughing and chatting. He was always so sweet and wasn’t the kind of boy you could get angry with.”

Mr Wilkinson said Archie had broken his hand about a month before his death when he punched a bus stop.

He said the schoolboy had told friends he had wanted to jump in front of a car but “couldn’t bring himself to do it so he had hit the bus stop”.

Recording a verdict that Archie had “taken his own life while suffering from undisclosed and undiagnosed depression”, Mr Wilkinson said: “It appears Archie was very much struggling with issues around identity and his place in life.”

Referring to the teenager’s online research on suicide, he added: “That remains a concern but I am slightly at a loss of what can be done to police that.”

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