Isle of Sheppey – England: The mother of a teenager who died after falling from a railway bridge believes TikTok was a serious factor in her son’s death and has called for it to be an interested party in his inquest.
The tragedy happened as a train carrying Sheppey school children from Sittingbourne back to Sheerness was passing. Power to the track had to be cut for emergency services. Passengers were kept on board the carriages for two hours until the train could be moved.
Ellis Murphy-Richards, 15, died after the fall on September 30
A pre-inquest review at Maidstone’s Archbishop Palace heard how Ellis, who was a former pupil at Highsted Grammar in Sittingbourne and Oasis Academy on Sheppey, had been involved in a disagreement with staff at a pre-booked session with the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) at Seahells in Sheerness about going to A&E.
It started after his grandmother said she found him in distress the night before. The teenager walked out of the session after refusing to go to hospital.
A two-day inquest is scheduled for May 24 and 25.
During the hearing, coroner Sonia Hayes declined a request to make the video sharing social media app TikTok an interested party for the full inquest. An interested person – or party in this case – is someone who has the right to participate in proceedings because of their relationship to the deceased, their involvement in the circumstances of their death or at the discretion of the coroner.
Ellis’ mum Natasha Murphy of Epps Road, Sittingbourne, asked for the company to be involved as she believed it was a serious factor in suicidal thoughts her son held because of its algorithm and content which may have led to his death.
I had been given permission by Swale council to fix a plaque in Ellis’s memory to the bridge. I have also asked Network Rail for a cage above the bridge for safety of others.Natasha – Mum
The pre-inquest review heard how Ellis, who was living with his nan in Faversham at the time, had a history of mental health problems.
Following his death, the teenager’s mum paid tribute to her son.
We are all devastated. Ellis was very articulate and musical. He had learned to play the nose-flute, had taken violin lessons and had his own guitar. He had learned British Sign Language so he could sign along to pop songs.The Mum
Natasha, 33, revealed a mystery person tried to talk her son down from the bridge before he died and thanked them for their efforts.
Flowers and a 16th birthday balloon were left at the footbridge alongside a penned tribute from his mother, which said: I know how much you wanted to celebrate this birthday.
Ria Messenger, a support worker at the Faversham Youth Centre where Ellis was a member, said:
He was funny, danced quite a lot and sang very well. He was active on TikTok and liked to tell everybody. He had a good group of friends who always looked out for him. Everyone was absolutely devastated – it came out of nowhere. We wish that we could have done more to support him but with mental health it’s such a difficult subject.Ria Messenger – Faversham Youth Centre
A spokesman for TikTok added:
We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy and our sympathies go out to Ellis’ family. If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support. We do this by providing access to helplines directly in-app and on our Safety Centre and re-direct searches for potentially harmful content of this nature to the relevant support resources, including the Samaritans in the UK.TikTok Spokesman