'How do I go on?' Family of tragic teen brand social media sites as 'dangerous'
PUBLISHED: 15:56 02 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:42 03 February 2019
The family of a teenager who took his own life after watching videos promoting suicide have dubbed social media sites as "dangerous".
Claudiu Cristea, 18, was found dead in the river at Whitlingham Country Park, on September 16, 2018.
And at an inquest into his death on Thursday, it was revealed that he had been watching videos on social media where viewers were encouraged to take their own life to be with God.
Now his mother Vasilica, father Marian, and 12-year-old sister Monica, have warned against the dangers of content posted online.
Mrs Cristea, 39, said: “I just want people to know my son.”
Monica, a pupil at Thorpe St Andrew School, said her brother was very religious, and spent a lot of time talking about God and going to church.
But he also spent a lot of time on his mobile phone, watching videos on social media sites.
She said: “A lot of the time he would stay home or in bed and watch every day.”
Mrs Cristea, a carer who moved from Romania with her husband and daughter two years ago, said while Claudiu had friends he would not speak to them on social media, instead using it to watch videos.
She said: “My son was very good, teachers said he’s a good boy, he was a good friend, he was friends with everybody.”
Claudiu had moved to Norwich from Romania to join his family in July 2018 when he finished school and started working as an assistant chef at a pizza place near Norwich railway station.
Mrs Cristea said the family had considered moving back to Romania but Claudiu had encouraged them to stay.
She said: “He would say ‘stay for Monica, it’s a very good school for her’. In his journal he had written ‘I want to stay in England’. My son was very worried an Monica, and worried for the world.”
She said he would become depressed about the state of the world, where people lived in poverty, and, for example, the war in Syria.
But Mrs Cristea said she felt her son had been influenced by videos which showed a man telling viewers that by taking their own life they would be joining God.
She said: “I don’t like Facebook, for people right now it is dangerous. I spoke to my son and asked him who does he speak to, but it was no one, just videos. I want for people to not believe Facebook all the time. Be careful.
“All the time it’s ‘look at me, wow’ but it’s dead, it’s not correct. I want everybody to know what happened to my son.
“We have no answers, we are left confused.”
Mrs Cristea’s warning comes after the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, which highlighted the “horrific” material children were able to access online.
Molly took her own life in 2017 after viewing disturbing content about suicide on social media.
Speaking to the BBC, her father said he believed Instagram “helped kill my daughter”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has called on social media giants to “purge” material promoting self-harm and suicide in the wake of Molly’s suicide.
Mrs Cristea said: “It’s very important for children to talk to mum and dad.”
Claudiu was found by his father 43-year-old Marian, a butcher, and his second cousin Olimpiu Simion.
Mrs Cristea said: “It’s very hard for me and Monica. How do I go on? I miss my son.”
While Mr Cristea said he had tried to block much of the incident out.
But the walls of the family’s Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, flat were adorned with photos of Claudiu and they said they could not forget him.
Mrs Cristea said Claudiu had left a note which said: “Mummy and daddy I’m sorry, I love you, I want to go for good. Please forgive me, I love you very much, soon we will be together.”
But his death was a shock as Mrs Cristea said he had planned to have a family and a life in England.
She urged others to take the time to talk to their children about social media.
“My son and my daughter are important,” she said.
“Family all the time, stay together.”
The family planned to have a bench put at the spot where Claudiu was found, where there is already a tribute to him.
Papyrus, a charity that works to prevent youth suicide, said it has been contacted by around 30 families in the past week who believe social media had a part to play in their children’s suicides.
Facebook said content which sensationalises self-harm and suicide “has no place on our platform”.