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Parents of suicide teen criticise mental health provision
6:30am Thursday 10th July 2014 in News
PARENTS of a 14-year-old boy who killed himself by jumping off a multi-storey car park 11 days after being prescribed anti-depressants, have criticised “under-funded” local mental health services.
Douglas Boomer also claimed he and his wife were not adequately consulted about the risks of their son, Tom, being put on Prozac.
The drug can potentially increase anxiety and the risk of self-harm or suicide, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.
In a joint statement, Douglas and Clare Boomer said: “The under-funding of mental health and youth support budgets means the help of many young people in Oxfordshire in need is simply not available, or comes too late.
“As a society we have to look at how to help young people such as Tom. They are the future and they deserve all the help and support we can give them.”
Tom, of Queens Street, Bloxham, Banbury, jumped from the Bolton Road car park in the town at around 12.45am on March 31.
He died from multiple injuries late that afternoon after being transferred to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter said: “Overall, it seems Tom intentionally jumped from the car park with the intention to take his own life.
“It does seem there were quite a few references to suicide ideation.”
Mr Boomer told the court he and his wife were not involved in the decision-making process about Tom taking Prozac, which he started on March 20.
The father said it had been “presented as a done deal”.
However, child and adolescent psychiatrist for Oxford Health, Dr Ann Rowlands, who was head of Tom’s treatment team, said: “It wasn’t a done deal.”
She said it was a joint decision by a multi-disciplinary team at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Banbury that had been treating Tom’s depression.
Dr Rowlands added she had discussed “the increased risks of self-harm” with his parents.
She added that medical consensus was that Prozac could increase anxiety and the risk of self-harm or suicide among young people within the first two or three days of use.
Yet the medical evidence suggested “those risks are extremely low”.
To counteract this potential side-effect, she initially prescribed half-doses, rising to full doses after five to seven days.
Tom was also “quite upset” at moving schools, from The Warriner School in Bloxham to Chipping Norton School in January 2014.
The Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard Tom had begun smoking cigarettes and cannabis, and drinking alcohol around the time he switched schools.
However, Dr Rowlands said “Tom’s mood had picked up” as a result of treatment and that he was classified as “moderately depressed”.
The court heard evidence from a female Chipping Norton School friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that Tom had sent her a text message on March 30, the day before he jumped to his death, saying: “I [am] constantly contemplating suicide.”
- Mr Salter recorded a verdict that he took his own life.
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