Bridgend is a dramatic documentary that is based on the suicides of Bridgend County Borough. After ninety-nine suicides by hanging, Bridgend is now known as “Death Town”.
When the show opens, we are introduced to a man that just happened to walk upon a young, teenage female hanging from a tree, while walking his dog, Max. He goes so far as to describe the position that she was in, when he found her and also admitted that the scene disturbed him terribly.
There were many rumors that surrounded the large number of suicides including the involvement of a serial killer, suicide pact, and a death cult gang, but most the locals did not believe that any of this were true. Instead they believed that the teenagers were just bored and drank too much, then took their own lives by hanging. One mystery that surrounded the deaths was the fact that none of them left a suicide note behind, which was very strange.
We meet the parents of Dale Crole, who was 18 at the time of his death. They describe him as being a normal and happy teenager. Dale was found in a shed at the Porthcrawl Fairground in 2007. His parents were called to identify his body because no one else could. Soon after Dale’s death, David Dilling took his life by suicide, as well. David’s best friend, Thomas Davies attends David’s funeral and returns home only to commit suicide. His mother says that he could not handle the news of David’s death and that is why he chose to end his own life, as well.
One parent revealed information about the “Black Path”, where the teens would go to engrave their names in concrete, then hang themselves soon after. All of the victim’s families describe how difficult it was for them to have to identify their child’s bodies, but they said that they would have never believed that it was true if they had not went through this process.
Zach Barnes hung himself by tying his t-shirt to the wash line. His mother said that she was broken hearted after his death. Zach was known for drinking too much, but he was still a great kid. Liam Clark committed suicide after arguing with his girlfriend. He was found hanging in the local swing park.
One parent spoke about how devastated she was about her son’s suicide and said that she was nervous about loosing her identity. Soon after her son’s funeral her daughter started acting out by getting drunk and overdosing on pain killers. She also said that her daughter could not stand to look at herself in the mirror because she saw a reflection of her brother in herself.
A gentleman from the suicide prevention center was interviewed and he described Bridgend as lacking identity. Bridgend was at one time a small farm and market town, now it was much darker because of the lingering suicide epidemic.
Three female teenagers gave a brief interview about the how they felt about the small town and the large number of suicides. They all described Bridgend as being a horrible place to live and everyone was living in fear because the threats of getting into fights were very high. Everyone was beer bingeing and fighting each other for some reason or another, sometimes for nothing at all. Teen depression was also very high and they felt that is why the teens committed suicide.
Almost everyone that was interviewed spoke of how lousy the support system was for depressed teenagers. The police departments, medical doctors and hospital staff turned a blind eye to the existing problems that revolved around the true reason of why the suicide rate was so high.
One group blamed the problem on the media because they put high focus on each suicide victim by writing stories about them and posting their photos everywhere. They also said that the victims do that in order to become famous. They also knew that if they committed suicide any other way than hanging, they would not get any media
Males are not the only suicide victims in Bridgend, Natasha Randalls was found hanging from her parent’s upstairs banister. Her friend admitted to wanting to commit suicide just to see what Natasha felt when she died. Jenna Parry always had psychological issues and low self-esteem, but Natasha’s death pushed her over the edge. She was found at the snake pit hanging from a tree. Kelly Stephenson was also found hanging in her bedroom and her father succumbed to suicide soon after her.
The camera was focused on Justin Beecham a big part of the time. He sat beside his mother and said that he would never commit suicide because he would not want to break his mother’s heart like that. He committed suicide three weeks after the filming of the documentary ended. The youngest suicide victim, Nathaniel Pritchard was fifteen years old. He hung himself after fighting with his girlfriend.
Bridgend is definitely a difficult film to watch because it is full of darkness, depression, and suicide. One would question why the suicide rate in this small county borough with a population of around 140,000 residents is so high. Is it truly, due to the lack of things to do or is it because they all live in fear? We will probably never know the answer to all the questions that have been brought up in this documentary, but one thing is obvious. Public officials, medical staff, and police officers are not willing to broach the subject of suicide. They also are not willing to set up free clinics, suicide hotlines, or open up mental health facilities for those that are contemplating suicide. It appears that the youngsters in Bridgend have a bleak and dark road ahead of them. This documentary deserves an 8 out of 10.