Father's grief after wife dies months after daughter's suicide amid bullying from group of boys
The heartbroken father of a teenager who took her own life after being bullied - just months before losing his wife to cancer - has spoken of his grief. Mariano Janin, 59, who moved to Britain from Argentina in 2001, lost wife Marisa and 14-year-old daughter Mia within the space of three months.
Teenager Mia was found dead at the family's home in Harrow, north London, in March 2021. A coroner this week ruled she took her own life after being bullied by classmates both online and at the Jewish Free School (JFS), where she was a Year 10 student. The verdict said the teen was "still a child" and died having "experienced bullying behaviour from some male students".
Then, three months later, 59-year-old Marisa was diagnosed with untreatable acute myeloid leukaemia. Tragically, within weeks, she died after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Now, speaking to The Telegraph Mr Janin said he would never forget the "haunting scream" from his wife when she discovered Mia's body and that the loss added to her own illness. Mia and Marisa have been buried side-by-side in a Jewish cemetery in Israel - with Mr Janin taking them both to Tel Aviv.
"I was less strong than Marisa, but Mia's death killed her," he said. "Afterwards she never went upstairs again. She'd sleep on the sofa and I'd sit with her until she was asleep and then go up to bed."
The inquest, at Barnet Coroner's Court, heard Mia had been bullied by boys in a Snapchat group online after posting a video on TikTok calling on them to leave her alone. The bullying included boys creating Photoshopped images superimposing girls' faces onto pornographic images.
The youngster struggled to integrate with others at the school, Mr Janin said she had been happier doing her schoolwork at home, in lockdown.
The inquest later heard a voice note she had sent to a friend on March 11. "I'm currently mentally preparing myself to get bullied tomorrow," she said. Her mother found her body in her bedroom the next morning.
"My wife went down to the kitchen to prepare Mia's breakfast," he said. "I was still waking up when I heard Mia's alarm go off. My wife was calling her. Then I heard a very haunting scream from Marisa. It will be with me until I close my eyes."
Notes left by Mia - one to her family and another to a friend - included the lines: "I just wanted to let you know I do love you guys very much. I have been brought up well by both of you. I have learned many things, I love all of you very much. However I know this decision is the right one for me.
"On earth I never felt connected. I felt a longing to leave for a while. I know this is a shock to you. Let my friends have my things please. I love you lots."
The inquest heard claims school bosses were "in denial" over the bullying. However, the coroner accepted evidence saying it had not been aware of the extent of the bullying, which included a group of boys who called Mia and her friends, the "suicide squad".
After Mia's death, safeguarding at the school was judged to be "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors an the headteacher left soon after. In 2022, it was reported the school pulled some of the boys in the Snapchat group aside and told them to delete it; a claim it denied.
Mr Janin says he now plans to continue campaigning for schools to be held accountable for bullying - and for the police to act against those carrying it out. "Unfortunately, I'm a victim of this failing system," he told the inquest.
No action has been taken against Mia's alleged tormentors, who Mr Janin says have never shown any remorse. "They need to understand for themselves what they did," he added. "I don't know how they will deal with this during life."
The Jewish Free School says it has made changes since Mia's death. "While I was not in post at the time of Mia's death, I can only promise that we will continue to do everything we can to embed all of the changes that have been put in place over the last three years," said headteacher, Dr David Moody. Mia remains a hugely missed member of our school community and our thoughts continue to be with the family."