My child killed himself after threats on gaming app - bereaved parent relives suicide trauma in documentary

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A suicide-bereaved mother shares her story in a Shots TV documentary about the harms of social media, as WhatsApp lower their age restriction to 13.

Joanne’s son had been a bright, popular teenager and a gifted athlete when he took his own life, in August 2016. But it was only when police checked the gaming and social media accounts of 16 year old James Doherty that they learned what had tipped him over the edge.

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Now, in a powerful TV documentary, the suicide-bereaved parent shares her son’s story as part of a debate about the harms of children using social media. Joanne Hargreaves-Doherty, from Cleveleys in Lancashire, tells Shots TV presenter, Lucinda Herbert: “I had no idea what he was getting into...You don’t know what conversations they’re having [on social media], or the language they’re using on there. I believe that’s what tipped him over the edge.”

James had recently passed all his GCSE’s and seemed to be enjoying his job as a lifeguard. But, unbeknown to his mother, he owed someone £400 and had received a threatening message on his X-Box account, two days before his death. It was an eye-opener for Joanne, who has since suicide bereavement support group, and a charity called Doherty’s Destiny.

In the 24 minute programme, she explains that problems are even worse for young people today, as being locked away on their smartphones is ‘now the way of the world’. “If you haven’t got a phone when you start high school, you’re going to be bullied. It’s wrong. Social media has taken over the whole concept of the world.”

Anyone struggling with their mental health can contact Samaritans for free on 116 123 or via email at [email protected].