Gareth Oates, an 18-year-old boy with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) died by apparent suicide in Bradford, England, highlighting what local officials say is a national bullying problem and a failure of mental health services to rise to the challenge.
Bradford Coroner Paul Marks said the case represents a gap in services between kids under age 16 and young adults over 18. Those in the middle are left without much support if they are being bullied or abused because of their disability. Oates was allegedly bullied repeatedly and called "suicide boy" by peers at his school.
The Independent reports that the coroner's analysis hit a nerve across the UK :
Charities yesterday said his story underlined the need for better care for those with autism. Mel Carr, transitions co-ordinator at the National Autistic Society (NAS), said: "The tragic case underlines the very real difficulties facing young people with autism as they make the transition into adulthood and the need for support at that time.
"Gareth was let down by a system that failed to recognise his needs. This must not happen again and all agencies must do more to help young people with autism."
Image: Bullied teenage boy, via Shutterstock.