The mother of a young Briton who died fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria became suspicious because it was unusual for him to have tidied his room, an inquest heard.
Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, killed himself to avoid falling hostage to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants, a coroner was told.
His mother, Catherine Lock, told the inquest how her son had given few clues about his intentions to fight Isil in Syria.
But she said that one of the things that “set off alarm bells” was the fact he had spring cleaned his room before he left.
She said her son became secretive before he left home and spent a lot of time on his computer – and unusually tidied his room.
“That was one of the things that I really questioned,” added Ms Lock. “I actually said, ‘Are you planning on coming back because you have spring cleaned your room?’.
“Deep down, there were things setting off alarm bells but I wasn’t getting the answers.”
A coroner said Mr Lock died a hero last December fighting with the People’s Defence Units (YPG) in the northern city of Raqqa, considered to be Isil’s de facto capital.
Former chef Mr Lock, who had no previous military experience, joined the Kurdish militia after telling his family he was going backpacking to Turkey in August last year.
An inquest in Portsmouth, Hampshire, heard that after being wounded and surrounded by Isil fighters, he turned his gun on himself to avoid being captured and suffering a “frightening and painful death”.
Recording a narrative verdict, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley said Mr Lock had suffered a leg wound that left him at risk of falling into the hands of a “cruel and ruthless” enemy.
Mr Horsley said: “He was not prepared to let that happen and used his own weapon to avoid capture. That can only be viewed as a brave action.”
The coroner described Mr Lock as a “heroic young man” and added: “He died doing something he quite clearly believed passionately in.”
In the months before he died, Mr Lock had kept in touch with his family from Syria via Facebook Messenger, sending them pictures and updates on his military training.
But after losing contact with him, Mr Lock’s father Jon Plater found images online of his son with an Isil fighter standing over his body, and his death was later confirmed, the inquest heard.