UK

Trans teen told counsellor he was having suicidal thoughts hours before he died

Patrick Kelleher May 25, 2021
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Ellis Murphy-Richards

Ellis Murphy-Richards. (TDOR/Trans Lives Matter)

Trans teen Ellis Murphy-Richards told a counsellor he was experiencing suicidal thoughts just hours before he died.

Murphy-Richards had been receiving care from North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) under the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) before his death, an inquest in Maidstone heard this week.

On 30 September, 2020, Ellis Murphy-Richards told a care co-ordinator at Seashell’s Children’s Centre that he had attempted suicide the night before and that he had continued to experience suicidal thoughts.

The service told his family that the teenager – who was just 15-years-old at the time of his death – should be taken to A&E.

His grandmother Sharon Murphy, who accompanied him to the appointment, agreed to drive him to A&E and put plans in place alongside his care co-ordinator – however, Murphy-Richards said he didn’t want to go.

At around 4pm, Murphy-Richards refused to get into the family car to go to A&E. The teenager walked away from the scene, with his grandmother and care co-ordinator calling after him.

Shortly afterwards, the care co-ordinator called Kent police and reported that the boy had left the premises. At 4.45pm, police discovered that a young person had been hit by a moving train. Murphy-Richards was later identified as the young person.

Ellis Murphy-Richards was an ‘extremely intelligent’ teenager who loved TikTok

The teenager had been under the care of mental health services since late 2018. During that time, he had attempted suicide on a number of occasions and had been hospitalised following instances of self-harm.

In the months since his death, Murphy-Richards’ family have expressed concern about the quality of care he received from mental health services.

Representing the trust at the inquest in Maidstone, Caroline Allen said mental health professionals had taken appropriate steps in their care for Murphy-Richards, according to BBC News.

However, barrister Rachel Barrett – representing the boy’s family – said he was “assessed to be at such a risk of harm that he needed to be conveyed to accident and emergency immediately”.

Barrett said there was “a duty on the trust” to take “reasonable steps” after it learned about his suicidal ideation.

The teenager’s grandmother Sharon Murphy told the inquest that he was an “extremely intelligent” person and spoke of his love of TikTok.

His mother Natasha Murphy told the inquest: “The majority of the time Ellis was a very happy person but unfortunately he had the impulsive behaviours as well.”

Murphy-Richards’ mother asked that TikTok be involved in the inquest, expressing concern that algorithms and potentially harmful content on the platform could have impacted on her son’s mental health.

However, the coroner decided not to include the social media platform at a pre-inquest hearing in January.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

Related topics: Trans

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