Teenager with gender identity issues and mental health problems took overdose, inquest hears

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn pictured in 2018. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A teenager who struggled with gender identity and mental health issues took an overdose, an inquest has heard.

Tyla Cook, 16, from Church Road in Wretton, near King's Lynn, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn on November 15, 2017.

A five-day inquest at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich started on September 10 and was attended by his mother, Stacey Drake, and grandmother.

Witness evidence said the teenager, who was born a girl, identified as a boy and suffered with anxiety and depression and had recently been diagnosed with autism.

He had not started any form of gender transition.

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Mr Cook had also been an inpatient at the Dragonfly Unit in Lowestoft, run by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), for his eating problems from May to August 2017 and continued to stay under the trust's care.

Giving evidence, Annabella Hudson, who was Mr Cook's care provider at the time, said during a one-to-one session at Thurlow House, in King's Lynn, in November he said he had taken an overdose of an over the counter drug that morning.

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She said: "The day before he had been more talkative but there was a noticeable change. He wasn't communicating at all. I felt worried. Something definitely had happened.

"I knew I wanted him to go to hospital to be checked. I couldn't persuade him. He had shut down. He was not talking and had his head in his hands.

"I knew the only way we could get him to hospital was to hold him forcibly to remove him."

After the paramedics arrived, called by Thurlow House staff, two paramedics and three Thurlow House staff members had to carry him to the ambulance.

Mrs Hudson said she stayed with the teenager in the ambulance where he was "very stressed".

The inquest heard Mr Cook was put into an induced coma and on the morning of November 15, he had a cardiac arrest and died.

The inquest heard how a doctor believed his heart was weakened by a blood clot or the induced coma, according to Miss Drake.

In a statement, the teenager's mother believed her son "would still be alive" if NSFT had acted differently.

She raised further concerns that the 16-year-old had waited in the ambulance for more than two hours outside the hospital before being admitted.

Miss Drake added that being restrained went against the instructions in his health passport.

She continued that she felt excluded over decisions about her son's hospital care.

The inquest continues.

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