‘Happy’ boy died ‘copying Snapchat video of friend with ligature around neck’

Mustapha Ibrahim, 13, was found in his bedroom at home in Southsea, Hampshire, and taken to Southampton General Hospital where he died.

Southampton General Hospital
Southampton General Hospital

A “happy and popular” 13-year-old boy died from hanging while copying a Snapchat video he filmed of a friend with a ligature around his neck, an inquest was told.

Mustapha Ibrahim was found in his bedroom at home in Southsea, Hampshire, on Sunday May 8 2022 and taken to Southampton General Hospital.

The teenager, who had three brothers and a sister, was admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit where he was confirmed dead the next day.

Mustapha’s father, Tahsin Ibrahim, 40, who was born in Iraq and moved with his family to the UK in 2016, told the Winchester inquest he was woken by one of his sons shouting: “Dad, Mustapha.”

He said: “I jumped from bed because I thought they may have been having an argument and went into their room and when I entered I saw Mustapha lying on the bed motionless.”

Mr Ibrahim said he shouted for his wife to call an ambulance as he tried to resuscitate his son.

He said: “I called him and started to press his chest and tried to give him some breaths.”

Mr Ibrahim said he later found a ligature in the room and a video on Mustapha’s phone of his son’s friend.

The clip had been recorded for a Snapchat message the day before, the court was told.

It was the final image on Mustapha’s Snapchat, which he last accessed at 9.15am on May 8, about 15 minutes before he was found.

Mr Ibrahim said the friend had a ligature around his neck “and Mustapha was filming him or they had put the phone down and were recording themselves”.

No similar videos or internet searches for suicide or hanging were found on Mustapha’s phone, the inquest heard.

The boy’s mother, Sosan Abdullah, 39, told the court her son was bullied at school because of his height but she did not believe he tried to hurt himself.

She said: “Mustapha was not having health issues, mental or physical, but because he was slightly short he has been picked on by friends at school and bullied and he didn’t like it and was very upset by it.”

Ms Abdullah said she believes Mustapha “wanted to repeat the video they did before and record himself and things went out of hand”.

She said she fears he had a heart attack or another complication and was unable to remove the ligature.

She added: “I do not believe he intended to do that because he said to his friend they were going to meet at the park.”

The friend from the video told police he did not put his head through the ligature on purpose for the video but said he and Mustapha often made videos while playing around, the inquest heard.

He said Mustapha was “a happy person” and “must have just been being silly and just got stuck”, adding they had made arrangements to meet up that day.

Nick Giles, headteacher at Mustapha’s school, Miltoncross Academy, said: “Mustapha was a popular student who had many friends. There was no evidence or suggestion Mustapha was the victim of bullying.”

Coroner Christopher Wilkinson said post-mortem tests showed Mustapha died as a result of lack of oxygen to the brain brought about by cardiac arrest caused by hanging from the ligature, which had been used as a toy and foot rest.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Wilkinson said: “There is no evidence that Mustapha intended to harm himself. I am satisfied to rule out the possibility that he intended to take his own life.”

He said: “My view is that it’s more likely than not that Mustapha may have been recreating the event from the night before with the possibility that he was wanting to see what it was or what it felt like, although I cannot say exactly what his intent was at the time.”

He added: “I am equally satisfied from the evidence, because it needed to be considered, that there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of any link to an online blackout challenge.

“I cannot exclude that possibility entirely because they all had access to the internet but the evidence doesn’t suggest the events were the immediate result of that.”

Mr Wilkinson added: “This was a desperately tragic, unintended accident.”

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