Father of Kezia Mason vows to lobby for suicide prevention to be part of school curriculum

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THE grieving father of Kezia Mason has vowed to continue to lobby for suicide prevention to become part of the school curriculum after an inquest formally concluded she had taken her own life.

The popular 14-year-old had been ‘jovial and chatty’ on the way home from a theatrical rehearsal just a few hours before she died on Monday 7 March this year, the inquest heard yesterday.

Speaking following the hearing, her father, Rob Mason, said he had been laughing about football results with his daughter after bringing her her dinner on the Sunday evening – and that there had been nothing to suggest Kezia would take her own life.

‘Kezia had fairly normal 14-year-old’s challenges, but nothing on the scale that would lead to this conclusion,’ he said. ‘She had packed her bag and laid her clothes out for school.’

Mr and Mrs Mason said nothing to suggest suicide had been discovered when Kezia’s phone was checked after her death, and that this showed the need for more help to be offered to young Islanders experiencing difficulties.

Mr Mason said: ‘The way kids’ brains develop makes it unlikely they’d talk to their parents. We’ll continue to lobby for suicide prevention to be part of the school curriculum, so that children can be given the tools to help themselves.’

L>R Rob Mason, Esther Mason and Ben Mason Picture: ROB CURRIE. (34630363)

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Mason said he had taken a meal to his daughter at around 7.30pm on the Sunday evening, as she was staying in her room to reduce the risk of catching Covid from her mother, Esther, and brother, Ben, both of whom had tested positive for the virus.

Police coroner’s officer Samantha Rawlinson said Kezia had attended a rehearsal for Matilda the Musical on the Sunday afternoon, after which a friend’s father had dropped her back to her home in St Helier.

In a statement, the friend’s father said that Kezia had been joking with the others in the car, making them laugh. The topics of conversation had been ‘ordinary’, he said, adding that in retrospect he could not think of ‘anything out of the ordinary or worrying’ about the discussion.

PC Rawlinson said there had been concern about Kezia suffering what was described as ‘teenage angst, depression and stress’. But the inquest heard that there had been no indication – either before Kezia’s death or afterwards – that she had been contemplating suicide.

Mr Mason found his daughter at around 7.30am on Monday 7 March, when she failed to respond to his message that it would soon be time to leave for school.

Relief coroner Cyril Whelan said he was ‘certain in the highest degree’ that Kezia had died as a result of suicide, formally recording his finding that she had ‘taken her own life while suffering anxiety, low mood and depression’.

Tributes to Kezia began as news of her death spread, continuing through to the conclusion of the inquest eight months later.

Mrs Mason said: ‘I still get messages from people I don’t know telling me how great she was and about the impact she made on them.’

Expressing his condolences to the family after delivering his findings, Mr Whelan said: ‘Kezia was totally loved by her family, who did everything possible to safeguard her welfare at all times, and had no means of knowing that she was contemplating a devastating act.’

Honouring Kezia’s memory

FOLLOWING the devastating loss of a daughter and a sister respectively, Rob, Esther and Ben Mason have channelled their grief into honouring Kezia’s memory in a positive fashion.

Ben threw himself into a major project to increase awareness of mental-health issues and raise money for related causes, eventually closing his appeal after collecting £106,637.

In recognition of his efforts, 17-year-old Ben was given three honours at the 2022 Pride of Jersey Awards in September, being named Volunteer and Mental Health Champion of the Year before claiming the inaugural Gary Burgess Award given in recognition of inspirational community leadership.

Also in September, hundreds of Islanders took part in the Run for Kezia, which was organised by friends of the former Jersey College for Girls pupil. The event included options to run two, five or ten kilometres at the Waterfront in St Helier and eventually raised £20,000. The organiser have said they hope it can become an annual fixture.

Run for Kezia at the Waterfront Picture: JON GUEGAN. (34630339)

The family are now focusing on how to make the best use of the funds collected.

In May, Ben was asked to present the FA Premier League trophy to Manchester City following his team’s dramatic win over Aston Villa in their final match of the season.

Rob Mason recently took part in the 3 Dads Walking challenge, which saw Andy Airey, Mike Palmer and Tim Owen – who all lost a daughter to suicide – walk to each of the UK’s four parliaments.

Rob Mason, Kezia’s dad, passing the 3 Dads Walking 600-mile mark

The challenge has so far raise £880,000 to fund HopelineUK, a confidential call, text, and email helpline for young people with thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned about those with such thoughts. The initiative also inspired a UK parliamentary petition for making suicide prevention a compulsory part of the school curriculum. It has been signed by 145,000 people so far.

  • A range of services and organisations are available to help Islanders experiencing mental-health difficulties. Details are available at gov.je/mentalhealthnetwork.

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