‘Troubled’ teenager struck by train 20 minutes after texting mum

An inquest into his death was held at Avon Coroner's Court in Flax Bourton.

An inquest into his death was held at Avon Coroner's Court in Flax Bourton. - Credit: Archant

A ‘very troubled’ Weston teenager – who died after being struck by a train – had a ‘difficult relationship with social media’, an inquest has heard.

Ben Simms, aged 18, endured a ‘complex history’ of mental health issues before taking his own life on the railway line between the Oldmixon and Coronation estates on August 21.

The former Weston College student, of Dunster Crescent, left his home shortly after 4pm before being hit half an hour later.

Mr Simms informed his mother, Sarah, of his intentions by text 20 minutes before his death.

She told the inquest: “Something happened when he was about 16 – I don’t know what. It coincided with him using his phone a lot for social media.

“His behaviour had been erratic. He could be the nicest boy, but when he was in a negative space he was frightening.

“He left (the house) before texting me saying he was going to his father’s to stay. He then sent me a text to say he was at the tracks.”

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Mrs Simms called the police, but officers were unable to locate her son before he died.

The court heard Mr Simms suffered mental health issues for years, battling bullying at school, low self-esteem, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Mental health social worker Abiodun Adigun worked with the aspiring bricklayer at the Coast Resource Centre in Weston.

He said: “He had been depressed for a number of years.

“His negative thoughts got more difficult to manage.”

Three months before his death, Mr Simms was diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder.

Mrs Simms hid all sharp knives and bleach in the house amid threats he would take his own life.

Assistant coroner Robert Sowersby concluded Mr Simms’ death was a suicide at Avon Coroners Court on April 11.

He said: “Ben was clearly a very troubled young man and tragically took his own life.

“He clearly had a difficult relationship with social media.

“Sadly we don’t know what upset him so much on the day but he took it in his own mind to take his own life.”

Mrs Simms’ call to the police to report her son’s intentions was graded a ‘priority’ incident – where police aim to attend within an hour – by the 999 call-handler.

The coroner was critical the call did not get a faster response, but he ‘could not envisage a situation where the police could have prevented this death’.

* Anyone in need of help can call the Samaritans on 116123.