A 15-year-old boy jumped to his death at a college after a phone call to a friend he told to ‘make sure you hug your parents’, an inquest heard.
On June 3 last year George Brankov gave his girlfriend a box of chocolates on his way to classes at the UTC Media College in Salford, Greater Manchester, climbed up a set of stairs and jumped off a third floor staircase. He suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
Police investigating the tragedy discovered George had been secretly stockpiling paracetamol at home and at the time of his death was speaking over the phone to a friend, heard Bolton Coroner’s Court yesterday.
George told his friend: ‘Make sure you hug your parents. You never know when they’re truly gone. The only people who claim to love me are my mum, dad, girlfriend and you. No-one cares.’
George Brankov (pictured), 15, jumped to his death at a college after being left traumatised by his experience in a hospital in Bulgaria, an inquest heard on Thursday
George, right, with his mother Tania, left. The teenager had mentioned suffering from ‘flashbacks’ as his family had to go home after visiting hours during his hospital admission
George, who lived near Manchester, had been admitted for three weeks for medical treatment in 2010 at the age of six, after suffering from a serious abscess when he was six years old during a family holiday.
He had mentioned suffering from ‘flashbacks’ as his family had to go home after visiting hours and he witnessed seriously ill and dying children battling severe illness on the ward.
Although he was given counselling by mental health experts, George never forgot his hospital admission and was ‘clingy’ with his family.
Back home he kept insisting on sleeping in his parents’ bed and even wrongly believed few people cared about him and that he was losing his circle of friends.
George, a Year 10 pupil at UTC, lived in Northern Moor with his family and was an athletic boy who enjoyed tennis and skiing and was due to take his GCSEs.
But the inquest was told his problems began at the age of six when he was taken ill during a family holiday in his native Bulgaria, after developing a severe abscess following treatment for appendicitis.
He was initially admitted to an intensive care unit for a week then went onto a children’s ward for a further fortnight to recover from surgery.
His mother Tania, an office manager for a software company, told the hearing: ‘The hospital in Bulgaria had a regime in which parents are only allowed in for 30 minutes a day as the children are in such a bad condition staff cannot have people in and out of the ward.
George was ‘athletic’, ‘sociable’ and ‘loved his skiing and tennis’, said coroner Stephen Teasdale at Bolton Coroner’s Court, recording a conclusion of suicide
‘It was explained that they have to lock the ward and keep parents outside and they would only let us in for half an hour a day.
‘George had never been separated from us ever in his life. He may well have also witnessed other children who really unwell, more so than him and some died and that may have affected him a lot. When we came back to the UK he was very clingy and he just kept coming in our bed.
‘There came a point when he realised himself that it is not usual for a boy of nearly 11 to be sleeping with his parents but he didn’t like to be left alone. He tried to deal with it, saw our GP and we tried to get him to sleep in his own bedroom.
‘But he got quite anxious over little things and he found big school difficult and unfortunately environment of the children with different backgrounds. We tried to support him as much as we could but he said: “I have lost my appetite, I’m not interested in things I am usually interested in and I don’t sleep very well.” He said he was very tired in class and couldn’t be bothered.’
Kirstie Beasley, a mental health practitioner who counselled George for his low moods just a month before his death, said: ‘Some of his movement appeared a little bit slow and I asked him about that and he used words like ‘angry, sad, nothing, happiness is rare.’
‘He was lacking motivation and describes having flashbacks when in hospital as a child. He was recalling other children who were very unwell and died while he was admitted in Bulgaria.
‘I wasn’t sure if there were any triggers and anything occurring around him causing him to have these flashbacks. He did acknowledge he was having suicidal thoughts but not able to say how long he had had them for. He said he’d had them for a while and they were getting worse over the last three months maybe longer and he was saying: ‘Life was not worth living.’
‘He did make reference to jumping and said he had thought about it but he said he wouldn’t ever do that as he was fearful of failure and embarrassment of other people seeing him.
‘He was also scared if things went wrong and he became paralysed described himself as an athlete playing tennis and skiing and the impact. He considered it as a very fleeting thought – and not something he thought he would do. He told us he had access to paracetamol.
The 15-year-old jumped to his death after climbing up a set of stairs at UTC Media College (pictured above) in Salford, Greater Manchester, on June 3 last year
‘Although George was talking about having suicidal thoughts he had given me enough reassurance he was having thoughts but not going to act on them. He was engaging with us and he wanted to be treated in the community. He spoke about how he had got a close relationship with his family and that was important to him.’
On the day of his death George was due to attend an English lesson but instead remained in a college lavatory after been told off by a science teacher for using his phone during an earlier class, the inquest heard.
Police Coroners Officer Julie-Ann Hyde said: ‘George was seen making his way up the stairs to the third floor and on the phone to someone.
‘He was clearly looking over the banister to make sure it was clear. During the course of the 20-minute phone call he did say he was going to do something but his friend thought that he wasn’t being serious.
‘He thought he was just talking off the top of his head and didn’t realise he was actually going to do it. But there comes point in the conversation that friend decided he was serious and counted down from 3, 2, 1. He was still on the phone to his friend when he put it down on the floor and then jumped off the banister.
She added: ‘There’s quite a number of text messages and their general nature was similar to the phone conversation. He described how he was unhappy about some of the people regarded as friends pulling away from him but his friend tries to persuade him its not quite as gloomy as he thinks. Sadly he seems to have felt isolated from other people.’
Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Stephen Teasdale said: ‘George was a polite, kind and a considerate young man who was athletic and who loved his skiing and tennis and was sociable. But his perception was that was beginning to lose his social contacts and his friends.
‘I am sure that wasn’t true but that was his perception and he was traumatised by the event in Bulgaria when he was six – an event which was completely outside the control of the parents and him.
‘The result of separation anxiety and trauma was something a six-year-old should not have seen and this had a lasting effect. When he was referred for treatment he disclosed things there that his mother was unaware of – particularly the stockpiling of paracetamol and thinking about ending his life.
‘Even if antidepressants had been prescribed it would not have taken any immediate effect. He came back after a weeks holiday and there were no particular signs that would lead either parent to consider that he was particularly at risk.
‘On the morning he went via his girlfriends and walked her to school and then went onto his own school. But it just seems to have been that things had become particularly intolerable for him.’
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