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Family of 15-year-old Max Thurnell-Read say their lives have been 'changed forever' following an inquest into his death

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THE family of an Arnewood pupil who took his own life say their lives have been "changed forever" following an inquest this week into his death.

Max Thurnell-Read was just 15 when he hanged himself in his bedroom at his Ashley home having been sent "vile" and relentless messages from friends he had fallen out with, Winchester Coroner's Court heard yesterday (Tuesday).

His family, including his father Jon Thurnell-Read, have today released a statement in which they talk of their kind, warm-hearted and talented son, whom they called a "beautiful soul".

They said the "cruel actions and words of a few individuals" had "tragic consequences".

Max at his first Pride march
Max at his first Pride march

"We are utterly devastated by the loss of Max," they said. "This has changed us forever and we all struggle daily without him. The world has been cheated of a wonderful person.

"We'd like to offer sincere thanks to the police and coroner for their investigation, Arnewood School for the ongoing support to us and Max's peers, and especially Max's closest friends, that have shared special moments and memories with us since Max died.

"We hope to continue keeping these people close to us."

The statement continued: "Over £13,500 has been raised in Max's memory from various fundraising campaigns, for vital charities No Limits, Breakout Youth and Young Minds – we're extremely grateful for people's generosity and support."

Max was "a very reflective person" his mum said
Max was "a very reflective person" his mum said

The inquest was told Max had been discovered by his parents on 4th May 2021, who tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived.

His parents said they had watched their happy and bright boy, who often spoke of his "perfect" life, become increasingly sad and withdrawn in the six months leading up to his death. He began self-harming, suffering panic attacks and was unable to go to school through "fear of the reception he would get", said mum Tracy Stevens

Max had faced persistent harassment following an allegation he had inappropriately touched a girl in October 2020.

She reported it to her guardian, who contacted the police, explained DCI Rob Harrington, but after officers spoke with her and two other girls, neither the force nor the youngsters took it any further.

He was a keen musician
He was a keen musician

In April 2021 he told his parents about the accusation from October 2020, and they contacted the school which tried to set up a meeting between Max and the girls.

Teacher Mr Biles said it never went ahead, however, because the girls were insistent on all being together and the school felt this was "unfair".

Mrs Stevens continued: "I saw the fear on [Max's] face every time his phone bleeped; this was not a case of poor mental health.

"What Max was accused of had been taken totally out of context, but after the accusation was made he never fought his corner. He kept saying he had clearly upset them and he never wanted to upset anyone."

DCI Harrington said the messages Max had received were looked into following his death.

"They were recorded as crimes but it wasn't appropriate to take further action," he said.

"With regards to the allegations made towards Max, in some cases, even when the complainant does not want to take further action, the police will still take that action. That was not the case here and we were aware of that context."

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said the situation seemed to have "morphed into something it wasn't" and warned of the "power of words" to harm people.

"There was an amplification in outrage that was very persistent and deeply regrettable, given the impact on Max.

"The only good that has come out of this is that there has been some reflection on the power of words and the need to use them carefully, and that those involved will, in the future, be less quick to turn on someone and gang up."

Ms Rhodes-Kemp recorded the death as asphyxiation from what appeared to be a deliberate act.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or at www.samaritans.org.

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