Like many twelve year-old boys, Riley Hadley was a “gentle caring young boy who struggled in large groups” as his mother Alison Holmes described him to Devon Live. Riley also had found himself being the target of bullying, starting in Year 7 at Sidmouth Community College in Sidmouth, England. Like many other young children, Riley also was starting to question his own sexuality during the months before his death, which many believe made him a target for those very bullies. Despite having his mother as a confidant, the bullying became so severe that Riley was forced out of school. In October 2019, after learning that he may have to return now to school, Riley Hadley took his own life in his bedroom at home.
During an inquest this past week, Riley’s mother Alison Holmes said regarding his death that he was “afraid to go to school and the local park in fear of being bullied” for over a year before his 2019 death. In October 2019, Holmes came home from work to discover Riley’s body cold after he hanged himself.
During the inquest, Devon Live reports that police interviewed nearly thirty children who knew Riley and the consistent themes were bullying, as he was conflicted about his sexuality and self-harm tendencies. One friend said Riley had claimed he had tried to hang himself previously, and another said Riley told him that he would not be around long. The inquest painted a dark picture of a young man in crisis, with bullies telling Riley in the past how they wished he were dead and at one point, one student reportedly telling the young boy to “do us all a favor and slit your wrists.”
LGBTQ Nation reported that on the day that Riley died, he had a doctor’s appointment, where he indicated that he was feeling “anxiousness” about a return to school. “He had a cry. We talked and he seemed a bit better,” his mother said about when they got back home from the doctor. His mother went to work and Riley proceeded to send a text to a friend that day that read, “I have to come back to school.” That was the last message he sent.
The Trevor Project offers a judgment-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386.