A GIFTED teenager stepped in front of a high-speed train ‘on the spur of the moment’ after struggling with concerns about his school studies and family, an inquest has heard.

Moments before the tragedy on Sunday, February 24, Jake Pirie, of Thornton Steward, near Bedale, said goodbye to his mother, Sarah, at Northallerton Railway Station as he travelled back to Uppingham School, in Rutland.

The Northallerton hearing was told that train driver John Ashby saw the popular 6ft 6in sports fan and musician standing in the dark close to the platform edge and sounded his horn as a warning as he approached the station at 125mph, at 5.45pm.

Seconds later, the 17-year-old, who had been a pupil at the leading boarding school since winning an all-round scholarship aged 13, stepped down on to the East Coast Mainline track and turned his back to the Edinburgh to Kings Cross train.

Mrs Pirie said Jake had appeared brighter following a weekend at home.

She said: “I wouldn’t have left him at the station if I had known [his state of mind]. There was no indication at all.”

She said there was a history of depression in the family and as a small child Jake had twice witnessed his chiropractor father, James, attempting to commit suicide, before they had discovered his father’s body in 1999.

She said: “He was starting to ask questions about his father and what he was like.”

In the days leading up to the tragedy, Mrs Pirie emailed teachers at the school to alert them to her concerns about Jake appearing lethargic and lacking in motivation.

The inquest heard while the former Aysgarth School pupil had been offered places at three universities, including Newcastle and Exeter, after taking two weeks off school with flu-type symptoms he had been concerned about falling behind.

In a statement to the inquest, Jake’s housemaster, Jonathan Lee, said: “He told me he was worried about his mother and grandmother, and I advised Jake there was counselling support at the school on various levels. He said he didn’t like asking for help.”

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Michael Oakley said: “It was no accidental matter. He was clearly observed on the CCTV camera to step forward on to the track.

“He had been ill and was concerned about getting behind in his work. It appears as if he has done what he has done on the spur of the moment.”

Following Jake’s death, British Transport Police and the Samaritans launched a scheme, including platform patrols, to try to deter people from jumping on to the tracks at the station, where there had been three other deaths in the previous 18 months.

A Samaritans spokeswoman said: "This is a very long platform, and it is where some of the fastest trains come through, so it is perhaps targeted by people who are thinking of suicide."