Coroner records narrative verdict in death of popular St Albans schoolboy

PUBLISHED: 17:47 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

A POPULAR and apparently happy teenage musician took his own life after refusing to go school one morning, a coroners court heard today (Thursday). Elliot Simms, 15, died in hospital on April 29, the day after he hung himself at the family home in St Alba

A POPULAR and apparently happy teenage musician took his own life after refusing to go school one morning, a coroners court heard today (Thursday).

Elliot Simms, 15, died in hospital on April 29, the day after he hung himself at the family home in St Albans Road, Sandridge.

At the inquest into his death, attended by numerous family members, it emerged that the Year 10 Sandringham School pupil had argued with his parents, Gareth and Sarah Simms, the evening before his attempt on his life.

Herts Coroner Graham Danbury said: "On the Monday evening there had apparently been an argument at home for the sort of reasons there are in many households - he was testing the limits of what may be allowed. As a result he went to the nearby house of a relative and returned later that evening."

Despite his parents' attempts to make the peace, Elliot remained despondent and refused to get out of bed and go to school the next morning.

Mrs Simms had to leave for work but remained concerned about Elliot and, within half-an-hour of him being left alone, Mr Simms returned home to find him hanging.

He attempted to resuscitate Elliot without success, but some signs of life were found following CPR by paramedics and he was taken to Watford General Hospital.

He was later transferred to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. But because of the amount of time Elliot had not been breathing, hospital staff said there was no prospect of survival and the life support was turned off the next day.

The cause of death was confirmed to be acute asphyxiation.

Sergeant James Twitchett carried out checks on Elliot's mobile phone and computer, as well as interviews with his friends, whom spoke of him in very high regard. But no evidence that the keen musician had a settled intention to take his own life was found.

Mr Danbury said: "What happened was a complete surprise and shock to everyone."

Drawing on the evidence he had read about Elliot's life, Mr Danbury said: "He was a well-liked and popular son who had a large group of friends, among whom two were particularly good friends. He had a great interest in music and played in a number of bands.

"He didn't have problems at school and was described as a happy young man. He was quite independent minded and enjoyed discussion in class. He met friends regularly outside of school and was active in the scouts."

Even though Elliot had physically tried to take his own life, Mr Danbury did not record a verdict of suicide because the teenager had not shown a settled and minded intention to do so leading up to the incident.

Recording a narrative verdict instead, he said: "He took his own life but the question of intention is unclear."

Speaking before the inquest, Mr and Mrs Simms said: "We would like to extend our sincerest thanks for all the support and kind wishes we have received since Elliot died. Friends, family and members of the wider community have been in touch and offered support, which has helped us as we struggle to come to terms with what has happened.

“As a family we remain totally devastated by the loss of Elliot who was very much loved. His inquest marks another difficult step we must go through in understanding his tragic death. We miss him every day and as a family will continue to support each other in the months and years ahead.”

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgmental emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. They can be contacted 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90.

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