The Bridgend suicides mystery
Bridgend suicides. What caused 79 youngsters from Bridgend, Wales to commit suicide over a 5 year period? What could of caused this spate of suicides in Bridgend? Was it an Internet suicide cult as reported by some newspapers, or something even more sinister?
Table Of Contents:
- 1 The Bridgend suicides mystery
- 2 Bridgend Suicides
- 3 First 17 Bridgend suicides
- 4 Suicide Clusters
- 5 Police say – “No link”
- 6 Conspiracy theories
- 7 Anti-depressants and Alcohol
- 8 Mobile phone mast theory
- 9 Bridgend Documentary and Film
- 10 Opinion
- 11 Wales is lovely, but…
- 12 Celebrity culture
- 13 Famous & from Bridgend
- 14 Nelson cluster
- 15 Bridgend suicides, sources and further reading:
- 16 The Samaritans will help
- 17 Finally, let’s get a perspective
- 18 Share this:
- 19 Related
Over the course of a two-year period in the town of Bridgend County Borough in South Wales, UK (population: 39,000), 24 of the 25 suicides were by hanging.
Most of the victims of the Bridgend hangings were aged between 13 and 22 and all of them knew each other. Strangely, only a couple of victims left a suicide note. Was this some sort of cult thing, the media asked at the time?
Is there anything in the fact that many of the youngsters knew each other? Maybe it was some sort of suicide pact as some of these unfortunate youngsters were related and a lot of them were friends.
Another part of the mystery is that in nearly all of the hangings the victims were able to hang themselves in the traditional manner, but chose instead to hang themselves while kneeling.
This may indicate a collective decision. When kneeling, it takes very little pressure by the ligature to cause loss of consciousness, the weight of the head being the main force followed by the weight of the body.
At this point, the person can do nothing to help themselves, even if they wanted to. There soon develops coma and this method of hanging is regarded as painless and more acceptable than typical hanging.
The average suicide rate for young men in Bridgend before 2008 was just three.
Between 2007 and 20012 there has been a total of 79 reported suicides in Bridgend County as a whole, (Population:100,000).
The Independent newspaper reported on Feb 20th, 2008 that the17th young person had committed suicide in Bridgend, Wales in the past 13 months and the report listed the tragic youngsters to date.
First 17 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 Kelly, from Bridgend, found hanged on 14 Feb, while on holiday
- Nathaniel Pritchard, 15 Kelly’s cousin, found hanged, died 15 February
Another eight young people were to commit suicide in the same manner in Bridgend up to 2010 when the police asked the media to stop reporting any new hangings in Bridgend, in case the reporting of it was part of the problem.
Note: Lisa Dalton, aged 24, also committed suicide around this time in Bridgend, but she was suffering from Anorexia and she is not thought to of been part of the cluster of youngsters that hanged themselves.
Yet another strange fact about the spate of suicides in Bridgend, is that all of the victims killed themselves without warning, and often, not long after assuring people close to them that they wouldn’t do that sort of thing.
Psychologists have mentioned before that suicides can sometimes happen in “clusters“, especially with young people, but the Bridgend hangings case is way beyond anything seen before by experts.
‘Suicides can spread like a contagion, If one death happens in a community, it’s as if permission has been granted to others’ – Darren Matthews, Bridgend Samaritans.
“Police insisted there was no link between the 17 deaths in the past 13 months and no evidence of a suicide pact or an Internet cult.in Bridgend, Wales”
Member of Parliament for Bridgend, Madeleine Moon. also said that there was no connection between the suicides.
As reporting of any further linked suicides in Bridgend was blocked from February 2012 , conspiracy theories have predictably grown, was it a clever serial killer? Suicide pact or maybe an Internet cult?.
Apparently some, or all, of these youngsters were on antidepressants. I have read that the Coroner does not record what medications the deceased was on, which is baffling to say the least, as many medications are well known to have suicidal side-effects and it is a plausible cause worth investigating I would of thought?
Anti-depressants and Alcohol
Add to this, the fact that most of these youngsters drank a lot of alcohol regularly, which when mixed with anti-depressant medication, can often cause a huge depressive downer when the alcohol subsides.
Mobile phone mast theory
A theory about mobile phone masts affecting young people in the region has been postulated by some; see Outlaw Jimmy-Bridgend revisited and mobile phone masts were also mentioned in the highly rated 2012 Bridgend documentary.
However, journalist Dr Ben Goldacre had a huge spat on his blog with the person that started this theory off back in 2008, it’s still there for all to read. I will leave you to come to your own conclusions.
The final comment on Ben’s page about phone masts brilliantly sums up how hysteria works:
“A good friend of my kids attend a school in Plymouth, right next to where a mobile phone company had erected a mast.
The parents were up in arms and a public meeting was called at the school where a representative from the company agreed to take questions.
The guy listened and quietly made notes for the best part of an hour as hysterical parents claimed that their children had suffered really bad headaches and were having trouble sleeping.
The mast HAD to come down immediately before someone got cancer etc.
After the mob had had their say, the rep politely pointed out that the mast wasn’t going to be switched on for another three months yet!!!”
Bridgend Documentary and Film
In 2015 a film dramatisation, (also called Bridgend), was released, well received, and shown almost everywhere in the world, but not in the UK.
There is one copy available on Amazon UK as I write, see link below.
USA readers click here for Bridgend videos and books available in your region.
After spending a few days researching the Bridgend suicides I must admit to thinking quite a bit about suicide for some time after. I do have a history of suicidal thoughts and heavy depression and still take anti-depressants, which over the last year or so seem to have helped.
I have not had these types of thoughts for a long time, but since looking at the Bridgend suicides story those thoughts are again at the front of my mind.
Can you see where I’m coming from? Just talking about it could trigger hidden or redundant\suppressed thoughts in some people that are already afflicted with depression, or maybe in a depressive state.
The thing about living with depression is you are always walking on the edge of disaster. One can sometimes become hyper-sensitive to even the smallest slight or setback (real or imagined).
I have experienced this many times. One part of your mind is telling you it’s no big deal, get over it, while another part is flooding your brain with negative thoughts so strong that it can render you helpless with despair.
Wales is lovely, but…
I have been to Wales a few times, though not to Bridgend County, which is called “Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr” in Welsh, but don’t ask me how to pronounce that please!
It’s a lovely country with great people, but anyone would have to admit that living in a small town in Wales is a fairly dull existence for a teenager.
Bridgend is a small working class, ex-mining town and is among the most economically deprived areas in the UK. Nestled at the bottom of three valleys, with low dark cloud, often thick fog and limited sunshine.
There is little to do for youngsters, except maybe drink alcohol. I can also relate to this as I grew up in a tiny village in Essex in the early 1970’s and we got up to all sorts of mischief just for a bit of excitement and to have something to do.
There is very high unemployment in Wales in general, especially for the under 25’s, and the constant dreary weather does not help either (I wonder if SAD, Seasonal Affected Disorder may have a bearing on this?).
All these factors cannot help towards a general feeling of well-being and happiness.
Maybe some or all of these factors combined together to set off the string of people hanging themselves in Bridgend county?
A spokesperson for the Samaritans was quoted in one news story I read as saying “discussing suicidal attempts was a good thing” , while another psychiatrist on a Fox news item claimed the exact opposite concerning the Bridgend hangings.
Not being a psychiatrist or doctor I do not know the answer. My instinct tells me there is nothing suspicious or criminal or some sort of conspiracy going on here.
It’s most likely a very unfortunate chain of suicidal attempts that led to deaths brought about by circumstances, environment and culture. But what do I know?
Here is the opinion of a proper psychiatrist Dr. David Healy
One other possibility keeps nudging at the back of my mind, though, celebrity culture. We have seen the insane lengths some people will go to for a few minutes of “fame“, Maybe this type of thinking is becoming ingrained in our young people, who knows?
Many people, including some of the victims families, believe that the over the top reporting in the UK press and TV has a lot to answer for as well, in this case.
However, it’s not all negative about Bridgend. To balance this here is a list of famous people that grew up just fine in Bridgend:
Famous & from Bridgend
- Julie Brown (Actress)
- Deddie Davies (Actor)
- Mark Donovan (Actor)
- Huw Edwards (BBC newsreader)
- David Emanuel (fashion designer)
- Bullet for My Valentine (Band)
- Funeral for a Friend (Band)
- Scott Gibbs (Rugby player)
- Hondo Maclean (Band)
- Michael Hall (Rugby player)
- Robert Howley (Rugby player)
- Gavin Henson (Rugby player)
- Carwyn Jones (Senior Welsh politician)
- Gareth Llewellyn (Rugby player)
- Howard Marks (International drug-smuggler and author)
- The Partisans (Band)
- Gareth Thomas (Rugby player)
- David John Williams (musician)
- David Williams (crime writer)
- Joe Williams (Musician and Teacher)
- JPR Williams (Rugby player)
Bridgend isn’t the first UK town in living memory to have a spate of suicides.
Nelson in Lancashire, which has a similar profile to Bridgend, had a suicide cluster that threw themselves off of a multi-storey car park.
From 2007 to 2009 seven died, one was paralysed for life, and 18 potential suicides were “talked down” from jumping by police negotiators.
Recent reports in April 2016 show that people are still trying to throw themselves from this building, even though the owners had fenced all the floors off, due to local protestors and police advice.
Bridgend suicides, sources and further reading:
The Samaritans will help
If you need someone to talk to about depression, suicide or you feel frightened or alone, do not hesitate to visit The Samaritans website. Or you can phone them on 116-123, or email them at email@example.com. Your correspondence will be 100% confidential.
Finally, let’s get a perspective
The death of a young person by suicide is heartbreaking. It should make us all think about any contribution we can make to prevent such a thing from happening. We need to make sure in whatever ways we are able to that young people feel they matter, and that things can get better; the media can be a powerful influence in this. These are real lives, not a story – Nicola Barden, Chair, BACP.
Have your say on the Bridgend suicides in the comments below.
Related posts: Escalator death traps
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