Schoolboy, 16, kills himself after his first gay relationship with ended

An inquest has heard how Zenon Bartlett, 16, was found hanged after he failed to come to terms with the end of his first gay relationship.

The teenager’s mother found him hanged in his bedroom not long after his boyfriend, James Hartman, ended their relationship.

Zenon Bartlett had also struggled for three years with persistent rumours about he and another boy.

A coroner heard that Zenon had recently finished school and planned to go to college before university so he could become a barrister.

James told the inquest that Zenon had talked about suicide before, adding: “He did mention it quite a lot. The first time I didn’t think he was being serious because he seemed happy so I didn’t know where he was getting his feelings from.

“There are so many things I wish I’d done, like ringing him so I could speak to him. I feel very bad about the whole situation.”

He told the inquest how he had previously found Zenon in a wooded area with marks on his neck and string hanging from a tree not long after their relationship ended.

James told Mid-Hampshire Coroner Grahame Short: “He never normally went there alone so I asked why he was there. I can’t remember his exact words but it was something along the lines of ‘I don’t want to be there anymore’.

“I kind of realised what was happening so I rushed outside and went there and found him sat on the log crying quite a lot.

“I sat there for four or five hours with him talking. String was on the branch and he did have a red mark on his neck.

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“I had never met his family before. If I had, they would have been the first people I would have gone to. I said he needed to speak to a counsellor or a therapist.

“He agreed and sent me a message saying he called some kind of helpline and said he made an appointment, I don’t know if he followed through.”

Zenon’s mother, Lynda Bartlett, described finding the “normal teenage boy” at their home in Four Acres, Botley, Hants., on September 6.

She told the inquest: “I had my lunch and just went upstairs and walked into the bedroom.

“I had seen Zenon’s legs sticking out the wardrobe – they didn’t look right and when I walked in and saw what he’d done I was screaming ‘no’ and just calling for help.

“I went downstairs screaming for help. I phoned for an ambulance and ran upstairs with my mobile phone.

“If I had thought for a minute that he would self-harm or he would come to us to say he was depressed we would have taken him to the doctor’s or I would pay for a counsellor.”

Zenon’s friend, Harvey Wright, said he had come out as gay to him and a mutual friend, Alfie Rees, not long before his death.

He added: “I’m not homophobic, I did not think it was right for someone not to be who they are.

“I knew Alfie would be okay about it so I told him to tell Alfie – we were both supportive of him and I think he felt better for telling us.

“I felt although he never said it, he was not happy with himself for being gay.”

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Both Mr Wright and Mr Hartman told the inquest that Zenon had struggled for three years with a rumour spread about him and another boy.

Mr Wright said: “There was a rumour from a few years ago that Zenon and another boy had done stuff in a bush. I knew it was hard on Zenon – he said it was untrue and didn’t like the other boy’s name being mentioned.

Mr Hartman added: “He used to avoid going to a skate park close to us because people who spread the rumour hanged out there and he said they would say stuff to him about it.”

The inquest in Winchester, Hants., was told by Detective Sergeant Louise Mills that investigations using Zenon’s laptop found he had self-harmed in August 2016 and said he felt depressed but “did not know why.”

He had contacted Childline and a representative offered to help but he told them he would not do it again.

Summing up the inquest, Mr Short, said: “At the time of his death he was making plans to go to college and had ambitions to train as a lawyer.

“In common with all young people of his age, Zenon was in transition between childhood and adulthood.

“He was trying new things like alcohol and tobacco, things adults use. More significantly he had established that he was gay and he had formed a relationship with James Hartman.

“Leading up to his death there was an incident where his friend found him sitting opposite a tree with a piece of string on the tree.

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“It may be it was a cry for help, it may be it was something else. It may be a trial run for what subsequently happened.

“I find Zenon was a sensitive young man who was affected by the prospect of the end of his relationship.

“However, he was prior to that already showing signs of emotional stress and probably signs of depression.

“Based on all this I conclude Zenon intended to take his own life and I am sure he knew the consequences of his actions. I record a conclusion of suicide.

“Death in these circumstances leaves all sorts of emotions and feelings of missed opportunity.

“I would urge you not to go along that route and remember when Zenon was happy the good times with him.”

Paying tribute to her son, Mrs Bartlett said: “In his 16 years, Zenon touched so many lives, we are so proud he was part of our family.

“Our wish for this in the future is for people to not be afraid and to talk and get help if they are feeling low or suicidal.”



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