The mother of Jaden Francois-Esprit—a Black firefighter at Wembley Fire Station—has told an inquest she believes her son took his own life because he was being bullied and discriminated against because of his race. He was found dead on August 26, 2020, having hanged himself just three weeks after his 21st birthday.

Jaden’s mother, Linda Francois, said her son was “the only person of colour” and was being singled out and made to carry out tasks that had not been assigned to him. She also said that Jaden—who was a member of the ‘Wembley Green Watch’—had applied for a transfer but was told he’d have to wait eight months because he was still in training.

“He hated working at Wembley and accused his crew manager of bullying him,” Ms Francois said. “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.”

Jaden’s sister, Kelela, who had met with her brother six days before his death, added that he had told her his colleagues “make comments about me”. She also told the inquest, “When I left Jaden, I was aware he was not happy at work, but I had no idea he was depressed.”

Station commander Daniel Johnson told the inquest that although he had only a had a handful of interactions with Jaden, he thought he seemed happy and saw no signs that he was being bullied or mistreated.

“He was exactly where I expected him to be,” Johnson said. “He was doing well, from what I have seen. He said everything was fine. He’s quite a quiet-spoken guy, very polite, smiling a lot. I have never heard of any incidents of him being picked on, bullied or singled out… Everything I’d seen gave me the indication that the watch is well run and well managed and bonds well together.”

You can find out more about Jaden and contribute to his family’s GoFundMe page here. R.I.P.