A cult of matching suicides has devastated a small town where seven young people have been found hanged in a year.
The apparent copycat deaths have left families reeling with grief in Bridgend, South Wales.
Police have warned parents to keep a close eye on their teenage children amid fears that social networking websites may have played a part in the tragic chain.
The latest victim was a girl of 17 who left a message saying ‘Me too’ on her dead friend’s website.
And within 24 hours of Natasha Randall’s body being found hanged at her family home, two of her friends had tried to kill themselves as well.
One, a girl of 15, was yesterday on a life support machine after her family found her before it was too late.
The other, also 15, survived after cutting her wrists and was later discharged from hospital.
Officers have visited the parents of each of the girls warning them to keep an eye on their daughters.
They have also seized Natasha’s computer to investigate any possible internet links between the tragedies.
Natasha’s death is the latest of seven deaths by hanging in Bridgend since January last year.
On her website there is a message to Liam Clarke, 20, who was found hanging in a Bridgend park two days after Christmas.
It reads: ‘R.I.P Clarky boy!! gonna miss ya! always remember the gd times! love ya x ” Me too!’
Her death was preceded by that of Gareth Morgan, 27, who also knew Liam and was found hanging in his bedroom earlier this month.
In turn, Liam, a sales assistant, was friends with 18-year-old Dale Crole, whose body was found hanging in a disused warehouse at a local funfair in January 2007.
The following month Dale’s former school friend David Dilling, 19 was also found hanged near his village home.
Then just two days before David’s funeral, another school friend, Thomas Davies, 20, hanged himself from a tree.
A friend of Thomas, Zachery Barnes, 17, was found hanging from a washing line in August.
Several of the victims posted personal profiles on the social networking internet site Bebo.
Since their deaths friends have set up memorial sites where they can post messages and obtain a ‘virtual brick’ in a remembrance wall.
The bricks for Natasha’s site bear messages including ‘RIP chick’, ‘Sleep Tight Princess’ and ‘Sweetdreams Angel’.
Police are concerned that teenagers may consider it fashionable to have an internet memorial site and are killing themselves for reasons of prestige.
Detectives confirmed they are investigating a possible suicide chain – the victims are linked although they did not all know each other.
Police and paramedics were called to Nastasha’s home in Bridgend, at 6pm last Thursday night, but she was already dead.
Natasha, who was in her first year studying Care and Childhood Studies course at Bridgend College, spent hours every day on her computer using the name ‘Wildchild’.
Her stepmother said: “The police have taken Natasha’s computer away to help with their investigation.
“This has come as a shock to all of us. We’re just too upset to speak about it.”
Two girls – who police say were known to Natasha – tried to commit suicide the following day.
One of the girls had spent the evening in her bedroom with a friend telling her that she felt suicidal and saw no point in going on.
When her friend left she tried to hang herself and was found close to death when her parents went to check on her.
Another 15-year-old girl made an attempt to take her own life on the same evening.
Last night Melanie Davies, whose son Thomas killed himself in February following the deaths of his friends Dale and David said: “It’s like a craze – a stupid sort of fad. They all seem to be copying each other by wanting to die.”
Thomas, 20, committed suicide just two days before he was due to go to the funeral of his friend David, who was known as Dai.
Mrs Davies, 38, said: “He had bought a suit for Dai’s funeral and was ready to go. He didn’t go to Dale’s but he was determined to be at Dai’s.
“He didn’t speak much about it other than to say he couldn’t believe it because he had been with Dai just a few days before.
“I knew he was upset, but had no idea how much it was playing on his mind.
“The next thing I knew was that the police were knocking on my door saying Thomas had been found hanged.”
She continued: “It is very worrying that we have had so many other young deaths here.
“The problem is they do not know how to speak about serious issues like this.
“They can speak to each other on the computer but do not know how to express their emotions in other ways.
“Thomas would spend about three hours a night on the computer, talking to his friends. The thing is that most parents don’t understand what they are doing or what they are talking about.
“He did go on Bebo and apparently he had a page on there. He must have discussed his other friends dying on there because it had upset him.
“Like most parents, I have no idea how to get on these sites or what other kids are talking about.
“But I would warn other parents to beware and to keep a close eye on their children.
“Children need to speak to people not just spend hours on the computer.
“I think they have lost the habit of talking – whether it’s to parents, family, church, Samaritans or whoever to sort out their worries.
“I have lost my son and I know what all these other parents are going through – it is the worst nightmare.”
Mrs Davies, of North Cornelly, Bridgend, added: “I have my son’s ashes in my home. I had no inkling what was on his mind but to me he’s still here. I say good night to him every day.”
JANUARY 2007: The body of 18-year-old Dale Crole, 18, was found hanging in a disused warehouse at the Coney Beach funfair at Porthcawl, near Bridgend. He had been missing for four months.
FEBRUARY 2007: David Dilling, 19 – a former schoolfriend of Dale’s – hanged himself near his home in the village of Pyle, Bridgend.
FEBRUARY 25TH 2007: Thomas Davies, 20, of Cornelly, Bridgend, a school friend of the first two victims hung himself from a tree in David Dilling’s village just two days before his funeral.
AUGUST 11TH 2007: Zachery Barnes, 17, of Wildmill, Bridgend, was found hanged from a washing line at a block of flats. He was a friend of Thomas Davies’s family.
DECEMBER 27TH 2007: Liam Clarke, 20, was found hanged in a Bridgend park the day after Boxing Day. The sales assistant was a friend of Dale Crole.
JANUARY 5TH 2008: Gareth Morgan, 27, was found hanged in his bedroom in Bridgend and knew Liam.
JANUARY 17TH 2008: Natasha Randall, 17, of Blaengarw, Bridgend, hanged herself in the bedroom at her home while her parents were downstairs. She was a close friend of Liam Clarke.
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