NHS trust facing questions over why troubled teen with suicidal intentions was able to walk off

An NHS trust is facing questions over why a troubled teenager was able to walk off after expressing suicidal intentions at a counselling session.

Ellis Murphy-Richards (pictured) was 15 when he died after being hit by a train on September 30 2020, an inquest in Maidstone heard on Monday.

His mother has expressed fears that he may have been exposed to potentially harmful content on the social media app TikTok.

A lawyer for North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft) which had been treating Ellis said appropriate steps had been taken to safeguard his life.

He lived with his grandmother in Faversham, Kent, and his death came weeks before his 16th birthday.

Ellis, a transgender teenager, had struggled with mental health and self-harm.

He was described by his family as a “delightful” teenager who loved to laugh and entertain.

His grandmother Sharon Murphy described him as an “extremely intelligent” person who was “always talking about TikTok”.

Ms Murphy tearfully told the inquest that Ellis was a “wonderful child”, adding: “He was kind, caring, he loved his family, loved his friends.

“He was delightful and I miss him.”

He had been receiving care from Nelft and had attended a counselling session on the day he died.

Barrister Rachel Barrett, representing his family, said Ellis “was assessed to be at such a risk of harm that he needed to be conveyed to accident and emergency immediately”.

She said there was “a duty on the trust” to take “reasonable steps”.

During the meeting Ellis disclosed a suicide attempt the night before and ongoing suicidal intentions but left rather than attend hospital, his lawyers said.

Caroline Allen, representing NELFT, said appropriate steps had been taken to safeguard Ellis’s life, adding that what happened had been an “extremely fast-moving situation”.

Ellis’s mother Natasha Murphy had previously called for social media app TikTok to be involved in the inquest.

She had voiced concerns about the impact of potentially harmful online content and the algorithms which may have increased Ellis’s access to it.

However, at a pre-inquest review in January the coroner opted not to include TikTok in the scope, her lawyers said.

Speaking at the inquest on Monday, she said: “Ellis was musical, he had learned to play a nose flute, which I never knew was an instrument.

“The majority of the time Ellis was a very happy person but unfortunately he had the impulsive behaviours as well.”

Help can be found by calling the Samaritans, free at any time, on 116 123 or by emailing [email protected] or visiting Samaritans.org.

The inquest, which is expected to last three days, continues.

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