A FATHER has called for lessons to be learned after an inquest heard his 15-year-old son committed suicide.
Dominic Crouch killed himself just days after returning from a field trip with St Edward's School the inquest in Cheltenham heard yesterday.
He fell from a six storey building in the town on May 18 shortly after returning from the art GCSE trip to the Forest of Dean.
The "tenacious" schoolboy had appeared happy when he returned but the inquest heard he later wrote three suicide notes - two to his family and one to his schoolmates.
He sneaked out of the school at lunchtime and into a nearby locked block of flats, Withyholt Court, before gaining access to the roof and throwing himself off.
He had sent a text to 999 saying that he was going to commit suicide, but the inquest heard the text service was only designed for deaf people who had registered to the service. As a result his message did not go through to an operator.
The school’s current headmaster, Paul Harvey, told the inquest that a helper on the art trip, Lucy Evans, had reported after Dominic’s death that the Year 10 children had been playing “spin the bottle” on the trip and that it was said Dominic had kissed a boy, leading to rumours at the school that he might be gay.
Numerous teachers gave evidence that Dominic had been happy on the trip, but one, the Rev Basil Postlethwaite, the school’s chaplain and RE teacher, told the inquest Dominic appeared “distant” during his Tuesday morning RE lesson, something he put down to tiredness from the weekend.
His parents were alerted to the fall at 3pm. Dominic died with them at his hospital bedside at 8pm.
Speaking after the inquest, Roger Crouch, Dominic’s father, said: “Dominic was clearly upset about rumours that he believed were being spread about him.
“We need to realise that what may be a laugh to some young people are deeply upsetting to another.
“On the evening of Monday May 17 Dominic was laughing and joking as we watched his favourite television programme.
“By the evening of May 18 he was dead from horrific injuries.”
Tom Osbourn, assistant deputy coroner for Gloucestershire, recording a verdict of suicide, said: “I do not think that I can recall a more tragic case than this.
“I am used to dealing with young men who commit suicide, but they are usually young men who commit suicide in desperate circumstances. One gets the feeling sometimes that they do not fully appreciate that once you are dead, you are dead forever.
“There is no evidence that Dominic was a desperate young man.”
He added: “There is a suggestion that a game of spin-the-bottle was played. It is a game played by numerous young people across the country, especially when they go away on trips like these.
“It may have concluded in Dominic kissing a boy. But there wasn’t any evidence that it affected Dominic to the extent that he took his own life.”
After the inquest, Mr Crouch said there were “lessons to be learned” from the tragedy, for the school, the local council children’s services, and also those responsible for building safety.
The family, he said, would now focus on trying to “rebuild our lives”.