"We just have to educate our young people"
An inquest heard that a “quiet-academic” boy took his own life after looking up suicide-related content on social media.
Zaheid Ali from Southwark, London, had just turned 13 when his body was discovered.
His parents said they had not noticed any signs.
An inquest heard that a police investigation revealed a “suicide note” found in his backpack – which was with him when he died – included lyrics to a Japanese song related to suicide.
Zaheid’s Twitter account had posts referring to a countdown of his intention to take his own life. He had also been following accounts related to suicide.
After his death, a fellow pupil at Ark Globe Academy revealed that Zaheid was in a WhatsApp group with other students.
A month prior to his death, he had written to another student:
“I hate life at the moment, I kind of give up. I might as well finish but don’t tell anyone, that will make things worse.”
Una Sookun, Associate Principal at Ark Globe Academy, told Southwark Coroner’s Court this had been a “massive learning for the school”.
She said: “Many of the students have learnt from this, about raising the alarm straight away and about people’s behaviour on social media.
“We just have to educate our young people that no matter what you’re feeling about it, it needs to be raised.”
She described Zaheid as a quiet but very “academically able” student.
Ms Sookun said Zaheid struggled over lockdown with online learning and maintaining a routine due to not physically attending school.
On one occasion, he emailed a tutor at 1 am to say:
“Something is telling me that I won’t be able to get out of bed. But I will be ok, even if the worst thing happens to me, I’m ok.”
The school suggested he start coming into the school premises during lockdown in January 2021 as part of the school provisions for vulnerable people.
But his parents decided against this due to Covid concerns.
His father Mumen Ali said: “From a young age, he would play Minecraft but as he got older he wouldn’t say what he was playing or viewing.
“More recently he stopped gaming and was active on his phone.
“I believe that Zaheid acted on something he was been watching on these social media sites.
“We never noticed any real change in his behaviour other than the two weeks before he jumped, but again, nothing concerning us.
“His mum would usually put his tie and jacket on and see him out the door with a kiss and a cuddle.
“On this occasion [on the day of his death] he left early. He was keen to get out of the door. Losing my son has been heartbreaking.
“It’s had a deep impact on my family and myself. We miss him a lot. This has truly deeply affected us.”
Dr Julian Morris, Assistant Coroner, said Zaheid left for school as normal and was travelling with a friend on bus 118 from Canada Water but got off a stop earlier.
Zaheid was captured on CCTV walking towards Tower Bridge before he was seen climbing the barriers and jumping into the River Thames.
Members of the public tried to save the schoolboy but were unsuccessful.
Eight days later, on April 28, 2021, Zaheid’s body was found.
Dr Morris said: “His parents are still baffled about his behaviour that day. The school are still caring for those pupils affected by the event.
“The difficulty for all of us and especially for you [his dad] is not being able to understand his personal and private thoughts and reasons as to why he did what he did.
“And that must provide an ongoing anxiety and frustration from your perspective.
“At the age of 13, it is far too young for anybody.”