Family speaks out after teen Charley's 'premature' death

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 October 2016

Charley Marks. Photo by Jo Clement.

Charley Marks. Photo by Jo Clement.

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The family of a Somerset teenager, who committed suicide just two hours after being visited by community psychiatric nurses, say they 'hope and pray' changes to treatment for mental health patients will prevent other families from also losing loved ones.

Relatives of Charley Marks say they have been left ‘devastated’ after the 18-year-old hanged himself at his family’s home in Burnham-on-Sea in 2014.

Assistant coroner for Somerset Tony Williams recorded a conclusion of suicide, after the two-day inquest into Charley’s death at Somerset Coroner’s Court finished on Thursday.

Charley’s grandfather George Clement said after the inquest: “On behalf of the family, I would like to thank the coroner for undertaking a thorough investigation regarding Charley’s very sad and premature death.

“We feel the final verdict that Charley committed suicide after being seen by nursing staff from the Somerset Partnership NHS Trust was significant.”

The first day of Charley’s inquest on September 27 heard how the teenager, who suffered from anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, voluntarily agreed to go to the Rydon inpatient psychiatric ward in Taunton shortly before he died at home on September 10, 2014.

He was admitted after struggling to cope with a relationship breakdown and experiencing suicidal thoughts.

However, Charley’s mother Jo Clement criticised the care Charley received on the ward and told the inquest she felt he would have been safer at home.

Charley was discharged from Rydon after a four-day stay, but took his own life days later.

Ms Clement told the inquest: “They made it seem like it (Rydon) was a good place for Charley.

“That is why I agreed to allow my son to go – I thought it was a place which would help him get better.”

Dr Amanda Hoar, a consultant psychiatrist at Rydon ward, told the inquest Charley had received support from the crisis management team after his discharge.

Dr Hoar told the inquest: “Charley’s mother said she was happy to have him back home as she felt the situation was made worse by his admission.

“We discussed giving him anti-depressants to help with low mood and anxiety (and) we discussed the aim to increase the dose.

“We agreed a discharge care plan which involved seeing a community psychiatrist.”

Ms Clement set up the In Charley’s Memory charity after her son’s death to support other young people experiencing mental health problems.

She told the inquest her son dreamed of being an archaeologist.

Ms Clement said: “Charley was known as a cheeky chappy, Jack-the-lad during his time at school.

“During his school years he was always out and about.”

The inquest also heard how a serious incident report was drawn up by Somerset Partnership Trust – which runs Rydon ward – after Charley’s death, and a local action plan has since been put in place.

Mr Clement said he hoped the changes would prevent another family from losing a loved one.

Mr Clement said: “It is regrettable that it took the death of Charley, a much-loved son, brother, grandson and friend to everyone, to force the Somerset NHS Trust to make these considerable changes.

“If these changes prevent further suicides in young people, together with the complete devastation of a family that follows, then let us all hope and pray that they may be worthwhile.”

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