Tameside, Manchester, UK – Cameron Brookes was a 16 year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. On August 18 2012 he was found dead at home, in his bedroom, after an argument with his mother and step father, Wendy and Mark Brookes.
Cameron had been denied access to a specialist support service as he ‘didn’t fit the criteria’.
When Caemron locked himself in his bedroom after the argument, his parents were advised by social services to ignore him. However when his step father checked on him he was found dead.
The inquest into Cameron’s death and the issues surrounding it heard that the teenager had previously self-harmed during bouts of depression.
Mr and Mrs Brookes had tried to source help from the council’s disability service (ISCAN) but during the inquest at Stockport Coroners Court it was learned that they were not allowed full access to the services provided as they were only for extreme cases.
Service manager, Sheena Wooding, at ISCAN, told that Cameron was ‘comparatively very competent.’
She went on to explain that since Cameron’s death, Tameside Council have implemented a new service that would have helped Cameron and his family. She further admitted during the inquest that this service, if it had been implemented at the time, could have been accessed by Cameron as it would have met his needs.
“At the time the parents were asking for a break away from Cameron. That break, for them, might have reduced some of the tensions in the house. Now we’ve developed an early help service and we’ve got a more direct pathway on that service.”
Mrs Wooding told that staff had not been aware about Cameron’s history regarding his self-harming.
Aisling Bouketta, who is an intervention worker at Tameside council, admitted that a meeting with Cameron, his parents and professional involved in his care did not take place and should have done.
Source: Tom Payne on the Manchester Evening News website: Teenager found dead after family ‘denied access to specialist service’
This tragic story once again highlights the huge gap that is clearly evident within teenagers and young peoples mental health services. Cameron was clearly failed by the system that was meant to care for him. Once again the valid concerns of this family, in regards to the health and well being of their son were not treated in the correct manner by the local council. In truth, this family and Caneron were failed by the system.
Health care professionals should be aware that teenagers and young people with Asperger’s syndrome are at a greater risk of depression and self harming as there is clear and documented evidence on this issue. The National Autistic Society, state:
“People with autism or Asperger syndrome are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, especially in late adolescence and early adult life (Tantam & Prestwood, 1999). Ghaziuddin et al (1998) found that 65 per cent of their sample of patients with Asperger syndrome presented with symptoms of psychiatric disorder”
We can only hope that lessons are learned from this tragic case. We send our condolences to the Brookes family.