How 18-year-old University student took his own life after convincing himself he had incurable cancer but was found to be perfectly healthy

Thursday, February 29, 2024
 – A University of York student took his own life after convincing himself he had incurable cancer, but he was found to have been perfectly healthy, an inquest has heard.

Charles Henry Johnson, 18, declined offers to socialise with his new housemates a day or two after he started his first year, telling them he was still unpacking.

But when his father contacted the university, worried he had not heard from his student son, the computer science student was found suffocated in his room with his bags still full.

In notes found in his room, the Computer Science student said he had started to feel unwell about two years before, and believed he had stage four bowel cancer that had spread to his chest and brain.

Charles had self-diagnosed his condition, saying that it 'wasn't survivable', York Mix reported.

But a post-mortem found that his organs were completely healthy and his brain was normal, with no traces of cancer.

Alison Norton, the assistant coroner for York and North Yorkshire, told the inquest the teenager's notes and blog entries 'indicated that he had made a decision to take his own life, rather than suffer with an illness that he believed that he had'.

Charles was said to be 'happy to start university' after finishing school with As in maths, physics, and computer science. He had plans to become a computer engineer.

'He was an excellent student, very intelligent, he knew everything about technology,' his father James' statement to the inquest said, The York Press reported.

Charles had previously been referred to the local mental health support services in his hometown in September 2021, who had advised him to reduce the amount of time he spent online.

And just a month later, his father had told the surgery his son was feeling 'much better', with the surgery not seeing him regarding his mental health again.

When Mr Johnson contacted the university on September 20, worried he had not heard from his son, two safety officers were sent to his room at 11am.

After not getting a response they gained entry and found Charles lying on his bed at Philip Brockbank Court, Langwith College, appearing to be lifeless and cold.

He was declared dead at 11.51 am, with officers finding that it was not suspicious and there were no visible injuries.

His door and window were locked and there was no alcohol, drugs or prescription medication nearby, while the cause of death was suffocation.

His body had increased ketone levels which may have been caused by fasting and could have sparked mental health issues before his death, but a pathologist could not rule out whether it did or how much it may have affected him.

A University of York spokesperson said: 'We were deeply saddened by the death of Charles and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

'Since we shared the very sad news with our staff and students, we continue to encourage anyone who is struggling to contact us for further advice and support.' 

Post a Comment