Leeds & West Yorkshire

Autistic Suffolk boy who killed himself 'was bullied'

The mother of an autistic teenager who killed himself in front of a train has told an inquest college bullies had nicknamed him "suicide boy".

Gareth Oates, 18, from Stowmarket in Suffolk, died in 2010 after travelling to Marsden station in West Yorkshire.

His mother Glenys Oates told Bradford Coroner's Court he was routinely bullied at West Suffolk College.

She also told of her struggle to get appropriate mental health intervention for her son's suicidal condition.

'Hated Simpsons'

Mrs Oates told the hearing of one occasion in 2009 when taunts caused her son to run out of college into a wood and phone her saying: "Mum, I'm going to kill myself."

Mrs Oates said a month later she found a message on her phone from him saying he was on top of cliffs in Norfolk, preparing to jump.

She said her son did not go through with it because he was concerned there would be no-one to clean the trains at the railway where he volunteered.

Mrs Oates said her son was well supported by his schools until he went to West Suffolk College.

She said teenagers learned he hated the TV show The Simpsons and any mention of it would set him off.

She said: "The 'suicide boy' taunts - why didn't they just clamp down on it? He'd had months of it."

Film obsession

She described how she became more concerned about her son's suicidal tendencies in 2009 but could not convince mental health services in Suffolk of the seriousness of his situation.

She said she made a formal complaint about the lack of service available for her son and was told there was "a gap in services" for teenagers older than 16.

The inquest was told she believed the reason her son did take his own life was because of a meeting with a GP link-worker the day before which left him "deeply, deeply distressed".

She told coroner Professor Paul Marks she believed he had taken literally a comment made to him that "he'd be better off dead than in college education".

She said he had become obsessed with the 1985 action film The Runaway Train, which ends with one of the main characters killing himself in front of the engine.

The inquest continues.

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