Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Anguish as boy dies sniffing gas


A MOTHER has warned of the devastating consequences of sniffing aerosols following the death of her 17-year-old son.
Dean Simpson was found dead, clutching a can of lighter fuel, by his 14-year-old brother Jamie.
Mother-of-nine Julie Simpson said that, in the past, her son had used hairspray and fly spray to feed his habit.
She has urged parents to educate themselves about the dangers facing their children."I think I was in denial about what Dean was doing – I was ignorant of everything," she said."I didn't have a clue – I didn't know what I was looking for and I knew too little too late."
We did try and discuss it with him and he would say he had stopped. "He had a way of convincing you that he was telling the truth and I used to believe him, but I think I was a bit ignorant of the dangers because I've never experienced it before."
Dean, a former Castleford High pupil, was found dead last Thursday afternoon in a bedroom at home in Milnes Grove, Airedale, Castleford. His mother says he had been "vulnerable and easily led" and was very sensitive and loving. She added: "Me and his dad split up a lot of years ago and he has been in foster care since he was about seven. He only came back home to me last November. "His ultimate goal in life was to be at home with his mum and he got what he wanted. "
He had a troubled childhood and had a lot of issues and I think that's what contributed to him using aerosols."
Dean's foster parents tried to get him to stop abusing aerosols – a habit he had for around two years – but to no avail.
Lesley and Steven Cole, of Glasshoughton, had fostered Dean for around nine years.Mrs Cole, 56, said: "If only he would have just listened. He said he would try and stop because all he wanted was to go home. "When I realised what was happening I stopped buying furniture polish, air sprays and fresheners. But he could get his hands on it if he wanted."
His funeral will be held at 11am on Monday at Whitwood Cemetery chapel and he will be buried in a signed Leeds United shirt.
An inquest will be held into his death once inquiries are complete. The number of deaths in Yorkshire from inhaling volatile substances has risen in recent years, according to a charity set up in memory of Bradford schoolgirl Chantelle Bleau, who died aged 16 in 1997 after sniffing lighter fuel. Her mother Pat believes the key to saving lives is education and she has been campaigning to raise awareness in schools and among parents and professionals.
In recent years deaths from solvent abuse, which kill at least one young person a week, have been rising faster in Yorkshire than anywhere else in the country. Mrs Bleau was instrumental in getting the age limit raised for teenagers buying butane gas from 16 to 18. She said recently: "What kids need to know is that it's like Russian Roulette – most of them won't die, but one of them will. That is the risk you take every time you do it."
andrew.robinson@ypn.co.uk
Taken from the Yorkshire Post
18 October 2006