Serious Case Review Into Cumbria Teenager’s Death Published

Concerns Raised Regarding Handling Of Case By Local Mental Health Service


A serious case review has identified nine main findings regarding the death of a Cumbrian teenager who was found dead in woodlands in January 2013.

Published by Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board, the report into the death of 15-year-old Helena Farrell – which referred to her as Child J – raised concerns regarding a “lack of knowledge” among professionals related to identifying and recognising signs of teenage suicide.

It also identified a “lack of appreciation of the inner world of teenagers”, which was leading professionals to draw naïve conclusions.

Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board confirmed that work is ongoing with partners to address issues raised in the report.

Richard Simpson, assistant director of children’s services for Barnado’s Cumbria and Chair of the Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board at the time of the report’s writing, said: “The report outlines how services did not function as well as they should have to help prevent her from harm.

“The review report asks some serious and difficult questions for which there are few simple or straightforward answers.”

Expert Opinion
This is a truly shocking case and it is vital that, following the release of these findings, work continues across services in Cumbria to ensure steps are taken to improve the support offered to young people facing mental health issues.

"Everything possible should be done to protect and safeguard children and this report has identified important issues which need to be consider to ensure standards rise.

"It is vital that all local authorities also consider these findings and ensure that their services are functioning to the best of their ability. The safety of young people should always be the top priority."
Tom Fletcher, Associate

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