A ‘bright’ teenager, who went missing after a bike ride, took his own life amid mental health struggles, an inquiry was heard.
Charlie Johnson’s disappearance last July prompted an urgent appeal, but his body was found a few days later in a remote area near Lapworth.
The Birmingham Coroner’s Court was told that the 17-year-old aspiring pilot from Solihull was bullied at school and was suffering from depressive disorder and anxiety.
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Shortly before his death, he was “overwhelmed by life, possibly by his GCSE and relationship status” that he had begun, the court heard.
Senior Coroner Lewis Hunt recorded the suicide findings today, Monday, January 10, as interrogations heard about his own life, admission to hospital and attempts to harm himself.
Following the death of his father in 2018, Charlie attempted suicide in a park, telling ambulance crews that he ‘doesn’t want to live anymore’.
He was detained under the Mental Health Act and spent a lengthy period in hospital before being transferred to Moonstone Lodge – a specialist children’s home in Great Bar. There, with round-the-clock support, I have made enough progress to finally return home.
He was called ‘prosperous’ after attending the specialist school Peak Education, but from June 2021, he was “overwhelmed by life, the inquiry heard.
School headmaster Sharon Cliff said: “He was so amazing, we didn’t expect this move to be so successful.
“It was an absolute pleasure to see Charlie with us. The time he was with us, he flourished and flourished. At the end of June, the time of July, we almost started sorting him out.
“It was hard enough for all of us. The first time we saw Charlie lose weight, he was almost immaculate. He was passing out in pain.”
Charlie, out with a backpack and his bicycle, was first reported missing on July 25 when he failed to return home. An immediate police appeal was launched to find him, with social media posts urging members of the public to contact him.
His bike was found by a concerned passerby, who called up the police and after searching the area, it was traced on July 28.
Samaritan (116 123) samaritans.org Operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you’d prefer to write how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being heard on the phone, you can email the Samaritans at email@example.com, FreePost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090 may write to Sterling. , FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.
cool (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net A helpline is for men who are down or hit a wall for any reason who need to talk or find information and support. They are open 365 days a year from 5 pm to midnight.
Childline (0800 1111) Runs a helpline for children and youth in the UK. Calls are free and the number will not appear on your phone bill.
Papyrus (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organization supporting teens and young adults who commit suicide.
Other Depression Charities
Depression Alliance There is a charity for people suffering from depression. It has no helpline, but provides links to a wide range of useful resources and other relevant information. DepressionAlliance.org
student against depression This is a website for students who are depressed, have a bad mood or have suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying Students Against Depression.org
Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) Helps people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or distress. You can call them every night between 8 am and 6 am.
Coroner Ms Hunt concluded that no one else was involved in her death and that it was a ‘deliberate’ act to end her own life.
This came after “a great deal of effort by everyone to support Charlie”, she said.
She said she hopes her family can remember him as a “bright boy” who loved trains, planes and aspired to be a pilot.
Reviewed by the Birmingham and Solihull mental health team, no deficiencies were found in their care.
“There was no specific lesson that needs to be offered in the form of actions”, it was heard in the inquiry.
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