‘James was an outstanding young man,’ his housemaster said
An 18-year-old model pupil at an elite £39,000-a-year boarding school was found hanged in his room after drinking with friends, an inquest heard.
James Pickering, known as ‘Jimmy’ to friends, had been suffering from depression months before he was found dead in his room at Malvern College.
The talented rugby player, described as the “talisman” of the college team, was discovered by friends on the morning of Sunday, 9 January this year.
Worcestershire Coroners’ Court heard the night before he died he drank between eight and 10 pints of beer with pals and had been in “good spirits”.
During the pub crawl in Malvern, Worcestershire, he took photos of himself with his friends and sent them to his family. Worcestershire’s Senior Coroner David Reid told Wednesday’s hearing Mr Pittering had been applying for university but had been suffering with his mental health before his death.
He said his GP described him as feeling low and suffering panic attacks when he saw him in October 2020.
He also complained of poor sleep and his doctor was concerned he was suffering from depression. As gevolg daarvan, he was referred to a child adolescent psychiatrist and had also been prescribed anti-depressants.
Mr Pittering was also seeing a counsellor and told a psychiatrist he “enjoyed school” and struggled with not being at school, missing socialising and sports.
He suffered a severe gastrointestinal infection in October 2019 and again in January 2020 and had three months off school. Mr Pickering’s father Alec told the inquest: “After this, he struggled to bounce back as one might have expected.”
The coroner gave the cause of death as asphyxia caused by hanging.
Mr Reid said: “It may have been his intention to take his own life. It may not.”
Speaking after the inquest, headmaster Keith Metcalfe, gesê: “James was a popular and well-respected member of the school who will be sadly missed by pupils and staff.
“He epitomised the qualities we look for in our pupils: a successful academic, actively involved in sport and a strong contributor to the arts.
“James, who was on standby for Gloucester Rugby’s Under 18s, has been described as the ‘talisman’ of our rugby team and demanded high standards of himself and others.
“He was vice-captain of the 1st XV rugby team, and awarded man of the match on many occasions, typically in the most challenging games.
“He also scored the fastest hundred for Malvern U14 cricket in 34 balle. His photographic skills were used to create last year’s Malvern College Christmas Card.
“He was one of the most respected and admired members of the school.”
Richard Howitt, James’s housemaster, gesê: “James was an outstanding young man.
“He was very well-liked by all those in his House.
“He was a great friend and, in his role as Deputy Head of House, showed real leadership qualities.
“I have no doubt that he would have made a positive contribution to the world, and he will be very much missed by everyone who knew him.
“He brought joy to the lives of all those whose paths he crossed during his time here at Malvern.
“He was at the centre of everything that we did as a House, and without that strong, soort, loyal centre, we as a community are left hollow with his passing.”
His father Alec described his son as “a very outgoing person” who was “kind, sensitive and thoughtful”.
He also said his son was a “diligent young man” who was “good at sport”, particularly rugby where he played in the position of hooker.
Since his death, his friends set up a James Pickering Foundation which has so far raised more than £45,000 which his family will donate to mental health and teenage suicide charities.
One friend said: “I can’t think of anyone here who would have anything bad to say about him.”
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