The Haywards Heath teenager took his own life after being struck off the social services register

A TEENAGE boy who took his own life was removed from child welfare services’ caseload just five months earlier, an investigation has found.

Jade Hutchings, 18, took his own life on May 21, 2020 at his family’s home on Haywards Heath.

An inquest into his death opened in Horsham on Monday and statements were made by his mother Beatrice and father Kerry.

They said the family felt “several opportunities” to intervene had been missed and if they hadn’t, Jade may still be alive.

In a statement read in court, Ms Hutchings said Jade’s problems first began in 2015 when she and her husband divorced, although the split between the two was described as “amicable” and Jade still saw his father regularly.

That same year, Ms Hutchings was diagnosed with kidney disease and had to go to the hospital three times a week for dialysis treatment, which she says was distressing for the whole family.

From 2018 to 2019, Jade was enrolled in a business informatics course at St. Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill and he was described as “bright” and academically good. He also took a part-time job as a salesman at Marks and Spencer.

Later in 2019, he dropped out of college and was fired from his job because he frequently missed his weekend shifts because he was out with friends.

In 2019, Ms. Hutchings found that Jade was a frequent alcoholic, was found on several occasions in possession of drugs like Xanax and Diazepam, which he used recreationally, and was also briefly suspended from school for dating another student given Xanax.

He was assaulted in June 2019 and abducted by two men in December 2019 and threatened with a knife, leading Sussex Police to believe he may have been exploited by a county line drug trafficking gang.

Ms Hutchings said not enough had been done to inform her of these concerns or to investigate its vulnerability in this area.

In November 2019, social services planned to meet with Jade every 20 days to assess his wellbeing, but before he turned 18 on December 10, he was removed from their records.

Ms Hutchings said in her statement: “This plan was not discussed with me and it was decided to close Jade’s case as he needed to seek support from his GP and take responsibility as he was almost 18 years old.

“Even though they felt they couldn’t assess him after he was 18, no effort was made to continue looking after him or to refer him to adult social services – I’ve been a social worker for 15 years and can’t imagine having children or treating families like that away. It felt like we were swimming against the tide.”

Jade attempted suicide at least twice, once in 2019 and once in February 2020, where he threatened to stab himself with a kitchen knife.

After the second attempt, he was hospitalized and evaluated by a Section 12 doctor on whether he should be incarcerated under the Mental Health Act.

The doctors who examined him concluded that his problems were not psychological but were caused by his drinking problems, and Jade told them he was going to an addiction treatment service.

However, Jade did not refer himself and appointments with a psychiatrist, which began in March 2020 and had a positive impact on his well-being, had to be canceled due to the coronavirus lockdown making in-person appointments impossible.

Ms Hutchings said the “duty” to stand up for Jade to refer himself, rather than being referred by his GP or social services, meant opportunities to help him were missed.

On May 21, Mrs. Hutchings went to the supermarket for about an hour and returned to find that Jade had attempted suicide.

Paramedics called to the scene noted a weak pulse so he was taken to the hospital, but after testing it was determined he had a severe hypoxic brain injury and would not survive.

Ms Hutchings’ statement concluded: “People have formed an image of jade based on stereotypes and misconceptions. He was a quiet boy who wanted a good life.

“He and our family were condemned and underserved – as a black family, we were treated differently.

“I am heartbroken at the many missed opportunities to help Jade.

“I’ve lost my faith in people and the way my son has been let down by the system is incredible.

“I don’t want another family to be abandoned like me.”

The investigation continues. The Haywards Heath teenager took his own life after being struck off the social services register

Fry Electronics Team

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