St Kentigern's Academy death: Boy, 14, dies after family claims he was put 'in chokehold’ - all we know so far
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The death of a 14-year-old boy on school grounds has sent shockwaves throught a community in West Lothian.
Emergency services were called to St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn on Tuesday afternoon. A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Around 1.20pm on Tuesday June 6, officers were called to a report of concern for a 14-year-old boy at a school in the Bathgate area.
“He was taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment, but died a short time later," he added. “His family have been informed and inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of the death.”
A statement posted on the school’s website said emergency services were called following an isolated incident within the school grounds.
Headteacher Andrew Sharkey told reporters at the school: “Everyone in our school community has been devastated to learn of the tragic death of one of our pupils.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends and we extend our deepest condolences and offers of support.
“We have set up ongoing emotional support and signposting for students and staff affected by this tragic news.
“We would like to respect the family’s privacy at this incredibly painful time.
“We are assisting the relevant authorities with their investigation to establish the facts and we will not be making any further comment at this time.”
The 14-year-old has been named locally as Hamdan Aslam.
As previously reported in the Edinburgh News, the young teen's family said they believed he was being bullied at school, and had been involved in another incident the day before his death.
Cousin Sana Khaliq said Hamdan had lost his life “during break time” and “suffered a horrible death whilst many stood around and watched”. She denied rumours which had been circulating on social media that Hamdan died after taking part in a TikTok trend.
In a public statement on social media, she said: "I’m sorry but wherever this [rumour] has come from needs checked as an incident occurred with him yesterday around a fight which we believe has continued to today resulting in the loss of life.”
Zain Mohammed, another relative, echoed her concerns and said Hamdan had been "put in a chokehold” by “a boy who’s been bullying him”. He added: “The worst thing about it is that it’s being passed off as a game they were playing called tap out. This wasn’t the case. He was being singled out and bullied for being different.”
Politicians express sympathies
Fiona Hyslop, the local MSP, raised the incident during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday.
She said the boy’s family are facing an “unimaginable heartache”, as she stressed the importance of not speculating on the cause and protecting their privacy.
Ms Hyslop also urged the First Minister to ensure any lessons learned from the boy’s death are implemented.
Responding, Humza Yousaf said: “This is the worst tragedy, anybody who is a parent will know there cannot be a worse fear, a worse nightmare, that any parent has than losing a child, so I cannot think what the family are going through.”
The community in West Lothian, including the wider school community, has been “deeply, deeply affected” by the death, the First Minister said.
He added: “I would echo Fiona Hyslop’s calls, both in terms of not speculating on what has happened – there will be an appropriate investigation and, of course, absolutely, lessons should be learned not just by the local authority and educational institutions but of course there may well be lessons for Government to consider as well.
“Fiona Hyslop’s second call is so, so important. As well as going through what is every parent’s worst nightmare, the family should be able to grieve in privacy and not have any further media intrusion or indeed speculation into what is the most unimaginable tragedy.”