The family of a London-based firefighter who took his own life claim he committed suicide after being bullied by colleagues because of his ethnicity.
Jaden Francois-Esprit was found dead at his home on August 26, 2020, aged twenty-one. Francois-Esprit had been training to become a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade at Wembley station, where it is alleged that he was ‘singled out’ as ‘the only person of colour’ in his team.
An inquest into what happened has now begun at Poplar Coroner’s Court, and the family of Francois-Espirit have accused his crew manager of bullying, adding that the 21-year-old wanted to move to another station but had to wait eight months to complete training before he could.
In the inquest, Francois-Esprit’s mother detailed what she believed prompted her son to take his own life, MailOnline reports:
He hated working at Wembley and accused his crew manager of bullying him. As a family we believe Jaden had every intention to go to work on August 26, he prepared his uniform.
Perhaps the thought of sticking it out for another eight months was unbearable. I don’t think he knew calling in sick was an option. The anxiety got too much and he couldn’t face going back, even for one more day.
His mother added that her son was ‘practical and confident’ and wanted to ‘feel worthy’.
The inquest heard that Francois-Esprit had felt there was little to do, and when tasks were given he was ‘singled out’. Ms Francois also noted that her son faced backlash from his colleagues after a team member talked about getting robbed by five Black men, and Francois-Esprit questioned why race was important in the retelling.
Some colleagues have denied allegations of bullying and have insisted that they helped Jaden settle in.
Despite the claims of some members of the team, the family have stated:
We believe his decision to take his own life could possibly have been made when he could not bring himself to return to the station and face any more discrimination.
Kairo Francois-Esprit and Sarah Citroën have now started a GoFundMe page, which aims to raise money for charities that support minorities who are struggling. The page intends to raise £25,000 for various causes, and this money will go towards preventing similar stories like Jaden Francois-Esprit by encouraging people to seek help.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123
If you’ve been affected by bullying, and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (Part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.