Police investigate 'tragic' case where 'schoolboy took his own life after social media trick'
Young people advised to stay safe online
Published 09/06/2015 | 07:00
An Irish schoolboy has taken his own life after being tricked into posting images on the internet.
Ronan Hughes, who was 17 and from the Coalisland area, passed away on Friday.
Ronan, a keen GAA player, was a pupil at St Joseph's in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone.
His funeral will take place at St Patrick's Church in Clonoe tomorrow morning.
Police described the case as "tragic" and have issued advice to young people in the Mid-Ulster area and beyond about the need for care when online.
Mid-Ulster District police commander Superintendent Mike Baird said: "Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a 17-year-old schoolboy in the Coole Road area of Coalisland on Friday June 5.
“Our enquiries into this tragedy are continuing, however, it is understood the schoolboy took his own life after he had been tricked into posting images on a social networking site.
“Police are continuing to liaise with a number of statutory bodies and community representatives.
Officers have spoken to pupils at a school in the area and offered advice regarding safe internet use and any type of virtual interaction including social media sites, chatrooms and through interactive games.
“If anyone has experienced anything of a similar nature or has received any inappropriate images or links, it is important that they contact Police or tell a trusted adult.
By doing this you will be helping prevent further such incidents. You will not get into trouble.
“We all deserve to be able to use the internet to learn, explore and connect with each other. But all of us need to be aware of the risks involved in doing so, especially on social media."
Parish priest Fr Benny Fee said the close-knit rural community had been left stunned and blamed "faceless individuals" for intimidating the teenager.
Fr Fee said: "He did not take his own life. His life was taken by these faceless people who put the child into a burning building that he felt he could not escape."
It is understood Ronan had told his parents about the cyber-bullying and made a complaint to police.
Fr Fee added: "It is a total and absolute tragedy but it is a different kind of tragedy because there is an element of cyber-crime involved.
"It would frighten any of us how children can be the victim of these faceless individuals. These people had something that they were using as a lever to frighten the child.
"But he had told his parents and they went to the police. It is just so tragic that these faceless people have robbed a family and community of a much loved child."
Scores of tributes have been left on Clonoe community Facebook pages.
His gaelic football team, Clonoe O'Rahilly's said the tragedy had cast a dark shadow.
A statement said: "Ronan was a youth player, having played goalkeeper throughout his short youth career. He was a quiet and modest young lad who was popular among all players and coaches. His death has left a dark shadow hanging over our club."
The Samaritans provides a support service for those who need to talk to someone. It can be contacted through Samaritans.org or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
How to stay safe online
• Don’t share personal information or images with people you don’t know;
• Don’t accept friend requests with someone you don’t know;
• Set your privacy settings on all devices;
• Don’t post anything online that you are not happy to be shared;
• If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or you have had disturbing interaction online, tell someone you trust.
Additional reporting by PA