MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Roger Crouch, the father of a 15-year-old boy who killed himself in May 2010 after apparently suffering from anti-gay bullying, and who then turned tragedy into a campaign for greater awareness and prevention of bulling in Britain‘s schools, has died.
Crouch advocated for substantial changes so that British schools must treat rumors and teasing as bullying, rather than ‘banter’. His son Dominic died after jumping off the roof of a building near his Cheltenham school in Gloucestershire, UK.
According to the corner’s inquest, Dominic had left school at lunchtime and his absence went unnoticed by staff. It was also revealed that he had sent a text message to 999 in distress as an apparent cry for help but the service was designed only for registered users.
In the suicide notes discovered after the boy’s death, Dominic stated that he had been bullied and Crouch later said publicly said that he was informed later that his son may have been teased for kissing a boy during a game of ‘spin the bottle’ on a recent school trip shortly before his son took his life.
Describing evidence presented at the coroner’s inquest of his son’s death, Crouch said, “It is clear that the banter and rumors were based on Dom’s alleged sexuality,” adding, “Some maintain that mystery still surrounds Dominic’s death.”
“There’s no real mystery around why Dom was driven to take his own life. He was desperate that his happiness after the residential trip was punctured by rumors and being the butt of jokes. Over a single morning he felt he went from hero to zero,” Counch said.
“He over reacted to this – as teenagers will – but no one noticed or acted on his upset and absence until it was too late. So when his 999 text, his cry for help, went unheeded, he scribbled his notes and threw himself off the roof in the last rugby tackle he would ever make.
“The real tragedy is not just that he died; it’s that his death was preventable.”
Following his son’s death, Crouch, a former local authority Director of Children Services in Manchester, worked to ensure that schools must do more to look out for signs of bullying and be aware of students who appear distracted or distressed.
He lobbied schools to ensure anti-bullying policies are used and young people should be taught coping strategies, and called on the UK government to adopt a “victim-centred” definition of bullying.
In a ceremony held in London earlier this month by the LGBT Equality Rights charity Stonewall UK, Crouch was presented with Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award.
His wife, Paola Crouch posted on the Facebook page for the Friends of Dominic Crouch in the early hours of Tuesday morning: “I have the saddest news to give you. The love of my life and Giulia and Domi’s beloved Dad, died tonight.”
“The changes you have started, for young people everywhere, the work you have done against bullying will remain as a towering monument to you. Our hearts break Roger, Domi, Giulia and I loved you so much,” she wrote.
“It was with great sadness and shock that I learnt this morning that Roger Crouch passed away last night,” said Joanne Dunning of the Manchester based Lesbian and Gay Foundation. “It seemed like he was only just getting the recognition he deserved for his anti-bullying work, this month he was named Stonewall Hero of the Year, and had been promoting the work of Diversity Role Models at The House of Commons in his role as patron of the new charity. The thoughts of everyone at The LGF are with Roger’s wife Paola and his daughter Guilia and all their family.”