Portsmouth University student took his own life, coroner rules

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A 19-year-old Portsmouth University student hanged himself in his halls of residence as he struggled to deal with a sexual assault he suffered as a child which had “blighted” his life, an inquest has heard.

Tyler Duchar-Clark was found dead in his room at the James Watson Hall on February 2 this year.

The TV and film production student, from Braintree, Essex, had not been seen for about three days and he was discovered after his friend Chris Bray, who he had begun a relationship with, had alerted security at the halls.

The Portsmouth inquest was told Mr Duchar-Clark had been suffering from severe depression since he was a child, following the sexual assault by two men which happened when he was 11 and which he still suffered flashbacks about.

Detective Constable Mark Brockman, of Hampshire police, told the hearing that leaflets for victims of sexual abuse and about post-traumatic stress disorder were found in the teenager’s room.

Mr Brockman added that Mr Duchar-Clark had informed Essex Police of the childhood incident but he had not wanted to take a prosecution any further.

He said: “It seems that Tyler was a well-liked and clever man but due to the horrific incident he suffered as a child he couldn’t see how people thought of him and decided to end his life.”

University counsellor Amanda Baker said Mr Duchar-Clark had sought therapy and had informed her of the historic incident and his ongoing depression for which he was taking anti-depressants, but she felt he was looking forward positively and had not expressed any plans to commit suicide.

She said he had suffered severe homophobic bullying at secondary school but this had not been the case at university.

She said: “He felt his depression was linked to the horrible experience he had gone through (as a child), it became clear the historical things were the things he was most troubled by.”

Mr Bray, who said he wanted to form a stronger relationship with Mr Duchar-Clark, who was still seeing a boyfriend from his home town, said: “Most of the time he was funny, he was kind, but he did have his demons.”

His father Paul Duchar-Clark said his son had struggled with depression since he was a teenager, although it had been misdiagnosed as ADHD and Asperger syndrome.

Saying that university had been a positive experience, he added: “He was the best I had known him for a considerable period of time, he seemed so happy in himself, I looked at him and thought ‘He’s a grown boy, a man’.”

Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict that Mr Duchar-Clark took his own life while suffering severe long-term depression.

He said: “It’s quite clear to me that Tyler had gone through a very traumatic experience very early in his life which at first he was reluctant to talk about and we can understand how that sort of thing can blight someone’s life.”