Troubled teen’s fatal impulse

editorial image

An ‘impulsive’ action may have led to the death of a popular Leighton Buzzard teenager an inquest has heard.

Matthew Humphreys, aged 14, of Wyngates, died after being hit by an express train at Leighton Buzzard train station on December 14.

The inquest at Ampthill heard that the Cedars Upper School pupil, who had a close knit circle of friends and a loving family, suffered from severe depression and had expressed suicidal thoughts.

He had been receiving treatment, both with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and drugs, and in the last few weeks of his life he had seemed to be improving.

Dr Kirstin Shukler, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, with the East London NHS Foundation Trust, had been treating Matthew since October 2017.

She told the inquest he had been an urgent referral because of his depressive state. But she said she could find no obvious reasons for his depression.

“I understood he was a popular boy and enjoyed being at school,” she said. “He had a network of friends, a supportive family and no social isolation at all. His parents were very supportive and concerned.

“He was feeling better in November with improved sleep and the ability to enjoy himself. I saw him on December 6 and he said he was feeling very much better and was back to his old self.

“I think it was impulsive and I think with young people it’s often impossible to know what’s going on inside their heads.”

When asked by Bedfordshire Coroner Martin Oldham about staffing in the mental health services, Dr Shukler said there were resourcing issues with the recruitment of clinical psychologists and mental health workers in the county.

A serious incident review after Matthew’s death found that he apeared to be responding to the treatment.

Jayne Matthews described her son as “very intelligent. He loved computers and wanted to be a teacher.”

She said he had had suicidal thoughts in September and safeguarding had been put in place at his school as well as seeking medical help.

“We think something at school happened that day that triggered it,” she told the inquest. “We don’t think he woke up thinking ‘I’m going to kill myself today’”

Mr Oldham recorded a verdict of suicide.