Agony over young romance led to death of teenager

Will Graham
Will Graham
A refugee in South Sudan

A country ravaged by years of bitter civil war and conflict

  • Talented pianist was in a ‘volatile’ relationship with first proper girlfriend
  • Coroner tells family ‘world will be a poorer place without your son’
  • His musical legacy will live on with new grand piano for school
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A popular teenager who dreamed of joining the Royal Marines took his own life after being unable to cope with a relationship, an inquest heard.

Sixteen-year-old Will Graham came from a loving family, was predicted to achieve excellent grades in his exams and was a talented pianist.

We need to take this opportunity to help safeguard other teenagers who might be in a similar situation

Paula Graham

But he was found hanged at his home in Sapphire Ridge, Waterlooville, after coming home from school on March 5 this year.

An inquest at Portsmouth Guildhall was told he had a ‘volatile’ relationship with his first proper girlfriend and it had taken its toll on him emotionally.

He was found by his mum Paula Graham when she returned home from shopping and paramedics were unable to revive him, the inquest heard.

The coroner, David Horsley, was told Will had never been diagnosed as clinically depressed and was a happy boy.

Detective Sergeant Penny Murray, from Hampshire Police, who spoke to his friends at Crookhorn College as part of the investigation, said: ‘He was the life and soul of his year.

‘He always helped other people with their problems, but divulged little about his issues.

‘None of them saw it coming.’

Mrs Graham said: ‘He was happy. He was fun-loving.

‘He was extremely talented and he was not big-headed about it.’

She described the relationship as volatile. The inquest heard Will had attempted to take his life the evening before his death, but his parents were unaware.

That night he had dinner with his parents and Paula added: ‘There was no cause for any concern.’

Mr Horsley said: ‘William was not in a good place with this relationship.

‘It was the wrong relationship for him to be in.

‘It put him under a lot of emotional pressure. It happened at the wrong time of his life in his mid-teens.

‘He’s got the pressure of exams and thinking about the future and he had a relationship that was by no means a perfect one.

‘He’s taken his own life while in severe emotional distress.’

Mr Horsley said that boys in particular can be affected by teenage relationships. He added: ‘Unfortunately, particularly with boys, the whole world revolves around it.’

He told the family: ‘The world will be a poorer place without your son.’

He said the family had nothing to blame themselves for.

Mrs Graham told the coroner: ‘We need to take this opportunity to help safeguard other teenagers who might be in a similar situation. I ask that parents be more vigilant when it comes to dealing with changing behaviours in your teenager to make sure they get the help they need.’

The family said they still had unanswered questions, but were satisfied with the coroner’s verdict.

Will Graham’s musical legacy will live on at his school.

In September, on what would have been his 17th birthday, a new grand piano will be unveiled at Crookhorn College in Waterlooville.

The piano will have a plaque to Will, entitled Just Keep Dreaming – a song he composed.

His parents, Paula and Andy Graham, launched a fundraising campaign to raise £10,000 to buy the school a new piano.

After eight weeks and with huge support from the community, they hit their target.