I buried my 14-year-old daughter after bullies drove her to suicide – then four months later I buried my wife next to her after she was killed by cancer
The father of a 14-year-old girl who took her own life after being mercilessly bullied has spoken of his grief at losing both his daughter and his wife in the space of three months.
Young Mia Janin was found dead at home in Harrow, north London, in March 2021 after being bullied by classmates both online and at the Jewish Free School (JFS), where she was a year 10 pupil.
This week, a coroner’s court ruled that she killed herself ‘while still a child and still maturing’ and ‘experienced bullying behavior from some male students’.
Her father Mariano, an Argentinian who moved to Britain with his wife Marisa in 2001, has now spoken of the anguish of burying his daughter and his partner months apart after she died of leukemia at the age of 59.
In a new interview, Mr Janin, 59, said he would never forget the ‘ghostly scream’ of his wife when she discovered the teenager’s body – adding that he believed Mia’s death hastened her own from cancer.
Mariano Janin believes his daughter Mia’s suicide contributed to his wife Marisa’s death months later (photo: Mariano, Mia and Marisa)
A coroner ruled Mia took her own life because she ‘experienced bullying behavior from some male students’
In a new interview, Mariano said he’ll never forget his wife’s ‘ghostly scream’ when she discovered Mia’s body in her bedroom
Mia and her mother Marisa, who was diagnosed with an untreatable form of cancer three months after her daughter’s death
Mariano, Marisa and Mia on holiday in Paris. Mariano says his wife couldn’t bear to go upstairs again in their house after he found Mia’s body
The Jewish Free School, where Mia was a pupil. It denied any knowledge of Mia’s bullying
She was diagnosed with untreatable acute myeloid leukemia three months after Mia died; within weeks she too was dead after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Mia and Marisa are buried side by side in a Jewish cemetery in Israel; Mr Janin says he can hardly believe that he has made the same trip to Tel Aviv with his loved ones’ bodies twice in such a short time.
He told the Telegraph: ‘I was less strong than Marisa, but Mia’s death killed her. After that she never went upstairs again. She slept on the sofa and I sat with her until she fell asleep and then went to bed.’
The inquest at Barnet Coroner’s Court heard that she was cruelly mocked in a 60-boy Snapchat group after she posted a video on TikTok in which she defiantly told her oppressors to leave her alone.
One child who gave a statement to the police, which was read out in court, said sick torturers girls’ faces photoshopped onto pornographic images.
Mr Janin says Mia, who had ambitions to become a doctor or an architect, struggled to integrate with others at school, and was happier in lockdown when she learned remotely.
He added that she came home in a low mood from her first day back after the lockdown, and asked her parents if she could be homeschooled for the rest of the year.
The inquest later heard a letter she sent to a friend that night, in which she said: ‘At the moment I’m mentally preparing myself to be bullied tomorrow.’ Her parents found her body in her bedroom the next morning on March 12.
He recalls: ‘My wife went into the kitchen to prepare Mia’s breakfast. I was still waking up when I heard Mia’s alarm go off. My wife called her. Then I heard a very ghostly scream from Marisa. It will be with me until I close my eyes.’
Two handwritten notes were found on her bed written on pages torn from her diary, which were also found in the bedroom.
One is addressed to her family and the other to one of her best friends.
In the note to her family, she wrote: ‘I just wanted to let you know that I love you very much. I was well educated by both of you.
“I learned many things, I love you all very much. However, I know this decision is the right one for me.
‘On earth I never felt connected. I felt a longing to go for a while. I know this is a shock to you.’
She concluded the note: ‘Please let my friends have my stuff. I love you very much.’
Mr Janin said his daughter came home from her first day of school post-lockdown and asked to be home-schooled for the rest of the year. Tragically, she was found dead the next morning
Mia with her mother Marisa. Mr Janin believes his wife’s death was hastened by the stress of her daughter’s death
Mr Janin says he has never received an apology from any of Mia’s alleged bullies
In the days before her death, Mia posted a defiant TikTok video telling her bullies to leave her alone
According to the inquest, bosses at JFS were said to be ‘in denial’ about bullying taking place in its corridors, but the coroner accepted evidence from the institute in which he said he was unaware.
Despite this, the trial was told Mia and her friends were bullied at school, in the street and on the bus, hit with soccer balls while boys called her names; her torturers called her friendship group the ‘suicide squad’.
Months after her death, the school’s safeguarding was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors, who noted that students had reported ‘sexual bullying, including via social media’. The principal, Rachel Fink, left.
In 2022, it was reported that the school pulled aside the boys in the Snapchat group and told them to delete it; it denied this in a statement to the inquest.
But Mr Janin says he plans to continue campaigning for schools to be held accountable for bullying that takes place on their halls, and to pressure the police to take action against those accused of bullying.
During the inquest he described Mia as ‘fantastic… she was very bubbly, great sense of humour, she was beautiful, she was very kind, very creative.
He said that ‘school is not just for the curriculum’ and that the school should promote ‘clear values’ of respect, adding: ‘Unfortunately I am a victim of this failed system.’
To this day, no charges have been laid against Mia’s alleged torturers and Mr Janin says they have never shown any remorse for what they did.
Asked if he would like to see those responsible appear in court, he told the Telegraph: ‘Yes, but it’s not about revenge… They have to understand for themselves what they’ve done. I don’t know how they’re going to deal with it during life.’
The Jewish Free School says it has made changes since Mia’s death.
Dr David Moody, head teacher at the school, said after the verdict: ‘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 make all the changes which had been implemented over the past three years.
‘Mia remains a much missed member of our school community and our thoughts are still with the family.’