Blackpool teen in gas can suicide

A BULLIED Blackpool teenager was found dead at home after learning how to kill himself via the Internet.

Matthew Jones died from asphyxia after inhaling gas from a canister he bought online, an inquest was told.

His death was well planned and evidence found on the former Montgomery High and Baines College student's home computer showed he visited suicide web forums where he talked to other teenagers about death.

The 17-year-old even pretended the package containing the deadly canister was a surprise Christmas present to stop his parents looking at it when it arrived in the post.

Blackpool's Deputy Coroner Michael Woosnam said more needed to be done to crackdown on web forums that offered advice to young people on how to take their own lives.

He said: "It's appalling people the age of Matthew have access to this sort of information about potential procedures and putting the idea in their mind, and – although not in this particular case – mutual encouragement to take their own lives."

He also said there appeared to be a gap in mental health services for youngsters aged 16 to 19, after Matthew's parents spoke of feeling "let down by the NHS".

Mr Woosnam said he had seen evidence, including a drawing Matthew made of the suicide method, a list of items he needed to perform it, a suicide note, as well as e-mails and internet correspondence.

The tragic teen spoke online to a 15-year-old girl from Sweden and told her of how the method he had chosen would work and how quickly he would become unconscious. She tried to dissuade him and he also tried to persuade her not to kill herself.

Matthew's parents Roger and Linda Jones told yesterday's inquest how their son had been "quite severely" bullied from an early age and was depressed and had self-harmed.

The inquest heard how Matthew, who was musically gifted and had academic success at school, was found in his bedroom by his parents, in the early afternoon of December 8 at their home in Norbreck.

He had seen his GP and was treated by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at Windmill House, in Blackpool.

In their statement, read by the Coroner, they told how he attempted to overdose on medication.

He had been admitted to the Parkwood Unit in October, but Mr Woosnam said that "did not appear to be success to say the least".

After he was allowed home, he saw his GP, who was so concerned she called Mountcroft, a community health team based in Fleetwood.

But once Matthew was 16, the medical professionals would not discuss his condition with his parents.

His mother told the inquest: "My feeling was CAMHS was so short-staffed they were only too ready to pass him on to adult services, although emotionally, he was much younger.

"We were told he did not tick the right boxes. But bearing in mind, suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the country, perhaps they need to look again at their boxes."

Mr Woosnam, recording a verdict Matthew took his own life, said: "It's something he had researched and he was quite clear as to what was required to do it.

"It comes across that he was an intelligent, caring young man who got an awful lot of love and support from his family.

"This is a very, very sad case."

Roddy McCowan, headteacher at Baines School, said Matthew left a lasting impression on staff and pupils as a loyal and caring young man.

He added: "Although Matthew only joined Baines School in the Sixth Form, in his quiet way he had made a number of firm friends in the time that he was with us. This was quite touchingly indicated by the number of our sixth formers who attended his funeral service.

"There was no nuance of bullying while he was here, he had a lot of support from staff and a core group of friends in the music group.

"Matthew was a young man with great potential and despite some of his personal difficulties, he made good progress with his studies and demonstrated the ability to have gone on and succeeded in higher education and beyond.

"He was also noted for his talent as a keyboard player and he was much admired by his peers for this, with who he shared a deep love of music.

"While he only touched our lives for a relatively short time, the pupils and staff were greatly saddened at his loss. He has left us with the lasting impression of a courteous, respectful, loyal and caring young man. The school community is that much less without him."