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Forced fainting may have caused William Stanesby's death

William Lippell Stanesby, 12, of Holmewood Ridge, Tunbridge Wells, who died at his home
William Lippell Stanesby, 12, of Holmewood Ridge, Tunbridge Wells, who died at his home

by Alan Smith


A dangerous craze for forced fainting could have caused the death of a talented 12-year-old, an inquest heard.

Straight A pupil William Stanesby was discovered by his mother Sabrina at their home in Holmewood Ridge, Langton Green, with his school tie anchored around a cupboard door-handle. He had fallen forward on to his knees.

Investigating officer Insp Simon Davey said it was possible he had "been experimenting in some way" possibly in something called the fainting game.

Pathologist Dr Simon Poole told an inquest in Tunbridge Wells that William had been in better than average health; he had not taken alcohol and there were no injuries to suggest anyone else had been involved in his death.

On discovering her son in the early evening of Thursday, June 23, Mrs Stanesby had used scissors to cut the tie securing him to the door-handle and then tried to resuscitate him.

She called her husband David Stanesby who also tried to resuscitate his son before paramedics arrived.

William, a student at The Judd School in Tonbridge, died in the Kent and Sussex Hospital a short time later.

Investigating officer Insp Simon Davey said William was a happy child with many friends and a number of activities planned for the weeks ahead.

There was no suggestion of any bullying and no evidence to suggest that William intended to take his own life.

He said research with colleagues in other forces had revealed 11 other cases where children had died possibly because of the fainting game.

The 'game’, also known as the choking game, sees people intentionally cutting off oxygen to the brain with the goal of inducing temporary euphoria.

Coroner Roger Hatch said: "There are a number of possibilities as to how the death came about. Therefore I record an open verdict."

In a statement released after the inquest, William's parents said their son set his own goals and strived continuously to achieve them.

"He sought fun, adventure and laughter and achieved more in his tragically shortened life than many achieve in a whole lifetime.

"We were and still are proud of him and miss him terribly," they added.

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