In December 2017, all alone in his room in Reykjavik, Iceland, Connel Arthur logged onto his computer and pulled up Google’s search engine. Little did anyone else know, though, that this would be the last time that the young man would seek out information online.
That’s because, within the next couple of days, Connel would be dead, and his family would be left to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of his suicide. While looking for answers of their own, though, his loved ones inspected Connel’s computer and found something heartbreaking within his final Google searches.
And perhaps Connel’s death came as a shock because, as his mother Nathalie would reveal, the spirited 21-year-old loved life. In January 2018 she said to the Daily Record, “[Connel] never came home because he was just always too busy doing stuff, away with his friends.”
Connel had also been a chemistry student at the University of Glasgow, although he had made plenty of time to pursue his hobbies alongside his degree. He joined on-campus societies for wakeboarders, snowboarders and surfers, for example, and often jetted to foreign countries without notice to be outdoors – much to his mother’s chagrin.
Nathalie explained to the Daily Record, “I’d always give [Connel] a row and tell him not to leave the country without telling me, and then I’d find out he’d been in Italy or something. I brought him up to be independent, and then he went off and really was independent.”
But Connel apparently had a softer side, too. Indeed, his mom would later describe him as “the most empathetic child you could ever meet.” And Nathalie also revealed, “[Connel] would always go and ask the girl who never got picked to dance. And he’s got a cousin with cerebral palsy and was always the one to look after him.”
Meanwhile, Connel’s independent streak may have enabled him to flourish in Reykjavik, where he spent a year as part of his studies. And, apparently, he was doing well in Iceland, picking up a job in a bar and going on to develop a wide circle of friends there. The 21-year-old also “enjoyed the dissertation he was writing and was thrilled to [have] his first academic paper published,” his mom would write on a GoFundMe page.
But, according to Connel’s mother, her son had one thing on his mind that may have caused him to worry: namely, that he was having trouble finding a place to live in Reykjavik. Nathalie would go on to tell the Daily Record, “I think becoming homeless was a massive concern to him.”
Furthermore, in the days leading up to Connel’s suicide, his mom, who lives in Scotland, reportedly sensed that something was amiss with her son. Nathalie later revealed, “I had a funny inkling that something wasn’t right. So, I’d messaged him a couple of times that week asking if he was okay. And he said he was fine.”
Furthermore, according to Nathalie, Connel never exhibited any outward signs of mental health woes. “He didn’t suffer from depression as far as we were concerned or aware,” she later said. So, when news of her son’s death reached her, it came as a complete shock.
Connel had chosen to end his life on December 19, 2017, a day on which he had spent time alone in his room watching random YouTube videos on his computer. At around 5:30 p.m. that evening, though, he sent a message to his girlfriend, in which he eerily bid her farewell.
And as Connel’s girlfriend was concerned by what she had read, she subsequently tracked the location of his phone and discovered that he was in his Reykjavik room. But while she also sought help to make sure that Connel was okay, by 8:00 p.m., when a friend found him, it was too late.
Still reeling from the news of Connel’s death, Nathalie, partner Tim and daughter Chloe traveled to Iceland on December 21. They had flown overseas to bring Connel’s body home; during their time in the European country, however, the young man’s loved ones ended up finding out so much more about his final days.
While hunting for answers as to why Connel took his life, for instance, his family pored over his computer. And that’s when they found the student’s dark Google history: in the days leading up to his death, it turned out, Connel had searched online for ways to commit suicide.
And the relative ease with which Arthur had found the information he needed was shocking to his mourning mother. Nathalie would go on to tell the Daily Record, “We went out there thinking it was a spur-of-the-moment thing. But there were all these searches from the days before.”
Nathalie added to the newspaper, “Connel had been Google searching how to kill himself and was easily able to find the information. There was a big fuss about eating disorder websites and self-harm forums a few years ago. So, why are these suicide websites not talked about, and why is [the information] available?”
Nathalie has since decided to take action, however, by sharing the story of her son’s death. This, she hopes, will enable other families to prevent their loved ones from going down a similar path. And as a consequence, the grieving mom started a GoFundMe page that aims to raise £10,000 – or about $14,000 – to help put suicide further into the public spotlight.
On the GoFundMe page, Nathalie notes that suicide is the number one cause of death among those aged 20 to 34 years old in the U.K., with three times as many men passing away in that manner as women. And, tellingly, many with suicidal thoughts may seem as happy as Connel had appeared to have been in the weeks leading up to his death.
While talking to the Daily Record, meanwhile, Connel’s mom said, “The chaplain said that Connel could have thought about doing this on many occasions in the past and something might have stopped him – a phone call, anything.” Perhaps with this in mind, then, Nathalie gives some advice on her GoFundMe page, saying, “It’s okay to not be okay, and there’s no shame in feeling that you’re not coping or need help.”
And during her Daily Record interview, the bereaved mother also had a message for parents whose children may be at risk of suicide. In short, she explained that attentiveness could be the difference between life and death. “Go and talk to your kids,” she added. “Get them to talk to their friends. Ask them if they’re okay. Send a text, take somebody out for a coffee – that can buy precious time.”