Tragic loss of 'kind and gentle' Aayush at 17 devastated family

Aayush Desai, aged 17, tragically died in Ipswich on Tuesday, May 18. 

Aayush Desai, aged 17, tragically died in Ipswich on Tuesday, May 18. - Credit: Desai family

A mum has spoken of the "devastating and permanent" loss of her 17-year-old son from Ipswich who died by suicide.

Aayush Desai was a "very intelligent" student at Colchester Royal Grammar School, Suffolk Coroners Court heard at the inquest into his death on Thursday, January 20. 

The teenager died on May 18 2021 after his body was found in the River Orwell. 

Suffolk coroner Jacqueline Devonish said it was clear he was a "highly intelligent young man" that found socialising "difficult", was anxious and suffered from low moods. 

But there was no "trigger" for his "sad" death by suicide after a fall from the Orwell Bridge. 

"A contributing factor was low self-esteem," she said. 

During the inquest, his mother Mrs Desai told the court: "He was a very mild and gentle boy who was loving and knowledgeable and always helping.

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"He was a voracious reader and had very good knowledge about philosophy and [computer science]."

She added that nothing could mend the family's "permanent loss" that had been so "devastating" and "extreme". 

His headteacher John Russell paid tribute, telling the court, he was "very intelligent", always got on well with others and will be greatly missed by the school community. 

"It's very tragic and hugely upsetting to my faculty and his year group," he added. 

Mr Russell said there "were no concerns" aside from him searching once five years ago on how to end his life. 

He also expressed wishes that the family had informed him of Aayush's several interactions with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) between 2007 and 2019. 

In 2007, Aayush was referred for "food avoidance and low mood" to CAMHS, Mrs Desai said.

A mental health worker at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Jennifer Evans, who assessed Aayush, also gave evidence. 

She said they had recommended Aayush join an after-school activity as he lived far away from his school in Colchester and find a common interest with his mum and dad to address his "low self-confidence".

He also had a "difficult relationship" with other children, Mrs Desai said.

She cited the "overall environment" in the school being "uncomfortable", the use of "swear words" by his classmates and alleged bullying in Year 7 before he died in Year 12.

She believes this impacted her "mild, sensitive and gentle" boy.

"He could not speak up for himself," he said. "He never wanted action to be taken."

One of his close friends reported bullying to his teachers in Year 7 and said it stopped but added that Aayush could still be "very down on himself" and could "snap" when he was in a low mood. 

The Colchester Royal Grammar School in Lexden Road

The Colchester Royal Grammar School in Lexden Road - Credit: Google Streetview

Other students told the family, after his death, that in the weeks before he had expressed suicidal thoughts. 

Mrs Desai believes schools should be more aware of these issues. 

On Sunday, May 16 2021 Aayush had his birthday, which he never liked to celebrate. 

"He felt his birthday was a waste and you should give money to poor people or an orphanage," she said. 

He did not go to school on Monday due to not sleeping and was later spotted twice on the Orwell Bridge by Suffolk police in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 

One team, who were heading to a 999 call in Felixstowe, saw a male cycling on the bridge when they were driving at 90mph. 

Another, off-duty police officer saw him later leaning over the bridge and called 999 but did not stop. 

His dad Dr Pravin Desai, a paediatric cardiologist, and his wife is trained in cognitive behaviour therapy.

Mrs Desai added: "We lost our beloved child and that could have been prevented. We save human lives which are so precious. 

"It was a great mistake." 

DI James Cassedy said there was "no neglect of duty" and they all acted "appropriately in the circumstances".  

"It's a public right of way which is used regularly," he added. "They felt no cause for concern from what they saw."

Great grandmother Patricia Hughes died as the result of a serious fire Suffolk Coroners Court heard

Great grandmother Patricia Hughes died as the result of a serious fire Suffolk Coroners Court heard Picture: ADAM HOWLETT - Credit: Archant

He also said it would have been "unsafe" for the off-duty officer to stop on a bridge with no hard shoulder, no lighting, alone with no back-up and it would have taken her some time to get to the scene if she had parked further down. 

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.