A "loving" and "delightful" eight-year-old boy grieving for the loss of his mother and grandfather died in hospital after he was found hanged in his bedroom.
Joshua Aldred was discovered unconscious by his grandmother in Lytham, Lancashire, on Thursday night. Described as an outwardly "happy" little boy, his family believe he was finding it hard to come to terms with a double tragedy – the deaths of two close relatives in as many years.
Joshua's family said yesterday that they believed he had intended only to hurt himself – not kill himself – in a cry for help that went horribly wrong.
His father, Jason Aldred, said: "He missed his mother and spoke of her often. Our very close relationship was of immense support to both of us. A tragic accident at home occurred when Joshua's sadness at the loss he had experienced at such a young age resulted in this tragedy. The family are sure he expected to only injure himself slightly and are devastated that this cry for attention resulted in the loss of such a beautiful boy."
Joshua was a pupil at King Edward VII and Queen Mary School in Lytham St Annes. A message was posted on the independent school's website yesterday, which read: "We are shocked and saddened by news of the death of Joshua Aldred. He was a delightful eight-year-old who will be very sadly missed by everyone. We are talking to the children and their parents in the preparatory school and are providing support to them.
"Our deepest sympathy goes to Joshua's father and the rest of his family and we of course respect their rights to privacy at this sad time."
Mr Aldred added: "Joshua Isaac Aldred was my beautiful son who was so tragically taken from me. In his very short life, Joshua had faced the double tragedy of the loss of his mother, Sarah, from breast cancer on 17 March 2008, and his granddad, John, from prostate cancer, on 9 July 2007. Outwardly this loving and happy child, who had a great network of family and friends to support him, coped admirably.
"Joshua's school life was happy and they have been monitoring him closely after the death of his mother. He was playing happily with no change in his school work. We would now ask for some privacy so that we can remember Joshua and come to terms with our loss."
Police family liaison officers are working with the boy's relatives and a post-mortem examination is imminent, Lancashire Police said. There were unconfirmed reports last night that Joshua had hanged himself with his school tie.