UK: Bullied gay teen died by suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs stored at school

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

A 14-year-old Essex boy bullied for being gay fatally overdosed on prescription drugs he had stored at school, an inquest has heard.

Ayden Keenan-Olsen was found dead in his bed by his father in Colchester on 14 March.

The teenager left two suicide notes outlining the homophobic and racist bullying he had experienced.

Ayden had worked out how to bypass the security controls on the family computer to research how to kill himself by looking at content on the internet.

His mother Shy Keenan, an anti-bullying campaigner, told the hearing in Chelmsford her son was bullied and assaulted for being gay at Philip Morant school in Colchester.

Giving evidence, acting head teacher Robert James defended the school’s policies for dealing with bullying.

“As a school, our first priority is to make sure our students are safe,” Mr James said.

He said Ayden reported bullying on between 10 and 20 occasions since starting at the school in 2010.

Ms Keenan told the inquest that Ayden had earlier tried to take his own life in October 2012, by overdosing on prescription drugs.

Breaking down in tears during her evidence, she said her son had been targeted with violence, abuse and malicious allegations because fellow pupils believed he was gay and because he had part-Japanese ethnicity.

The day before he died, he had seemed fine, with no “signal” anything was amiss, Ms Keenan told the hearing.

“My job is to protect kids online but I couldn’t keep my own son safe,” she said.

Shortly before Christmas he had told his family he thought he was gay. Ms Keenan stated: “He said he was gay and had found somebody he thought he loved but it was not reciprocated. We didn’t care, we just loved him whatever. After Christmas it was like talking to a different boy – since he was able to say out loud to people that he was gay.”

She described Ayden as a sensitive child who had planned to start his own anti-bullying campaign. He was a keen musician and idolised the television presenter Gok Wan. “People would call him Gok as a compliment,” she said. “He tried very hard to look like him.”

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of suicide.