A GIFTED 16-year-old boy with a “fear of failure” was found dead in a park from a heroin overdose after telling his parents he needed help, an inquest has heard.
Oliver Sharp was described as an “exceptional footballer” who’d achieved top grades in all subjects and skipped a year at his Stockport school.
But the teen increasingly suffered from mental health issues in the two years leading up to his death, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Oliver had gone missing on several occasions, attempted to take overdoses and regularly self-harmed before telling his parents he was going for a walk on October 17, 2018.
The following morning he was found unresponsive in Gatley Hill Park. He rushed to hospital but could not be saved.
His dad, Paul Sharp, told Stockport Coroners Court how Oliver had spoken to him about “wanting the help that he desperately needed”.
“He had access to a lot of help and support. It was not that he was not getting any, he just did not feel it was right for him”, he said.
The teenager had skipped a year at the £13,000 a year Manchester Grammar School (MGS), and appeared to enjoy his first years there.
Oliver’s mother, Gail Sharp, told how her son first showed signs of mental illness in April 2016.
It came to light that Ollie was self-harming after I saw a bandage on his arm. I was absolutely gobsmacked.
Oliver's mum, Gail Sharp
“The first indicator that something was wrong was when Ollie stopped doing his homework,” she said.
“He started to get angry and become agitated.
“At first we thought it was just down to hormones and then it came to light that Ollie was self-harming after I saw a bandage on his arm.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked.”
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Oliver then starting having cognitive behavioural therapy, but weeks later took painkiller tablets and was rushed to hospital, MEN reports.
He said that he just “wanted to die and nobody cared”.
Oliver was then diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but rejected the “labels” from “day one”, his parents said.
“He seemed to know people at school who had Asperger and said that some people weren’t kind to them”, Mrs Sharp told the hearing.
“I wonder if he did not want to be labelled and saw this as a stigma.”
After a period of relative stability, Oliver returned to school, but his mum noticed that his mood worsened during the second half-term.
She attempted to make an appointment through the Children and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Stockport – but was told there was “no appointment available until January.
He took his second overdose at his family home just after New Year, but was unable to tell his parents how he felt.
Oliver eventually returned to school, after it was decided he’d sit two GCSEs in Maths and English.
But he decided to leave the school entirely after writing just his name on the exam papers without completing them.
“I think he was such a perfectionist he was worried that he would not get the grades”, Mr Sharp said.
CAHMS psychiatrist Dr Parthiba Chitsabesan said Oliver was “incredibly bright” but that his emotional and social IQ did not correspond to his academic IQ.
He would only go to lessons if he was feeling quite positive. It was the fear of failure that I think made him not go
Christy Wheatley, school speech therapist
Oliver started a new school in Macclesfield in September 2017, but struggled with his mood and only sporadically attended his classes.
Christy Wheatley, SENCo and Speech and Language Therapist at Beech Hall School, said Oliver disliked labels.
“He would only go to lessons if he was feeling quite positive,” she said.
“It was the fear of failure that I think made him not go. And the fear of not being as clever as everyone tells him he is.”
A month before his death, Oliver took a heroin overdose and spent five days in hospital. His parents were told he “would not benefit from being an inpatient”.
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A toxicology report said the cause of his death was fatal heroin toxicity.
In a tribute at the time of his death, Beech Hall School headmaster James Allen said Oliver was an “articulate, polite and engaging” member of the school community, an “exceptional footballer’ and a ‘good friend”.
The inquest continues.
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