Mum of tragic Sunderland teenager Thomas Brookes speaks ahead of inquest opening

A mum who found her teenage son dead at their Sunderland home says she is still struggling to come to terms with his death.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 6:00 am
Thomas Brookes and pictured with mum Helen Wardropper (left) and aunt Cheryl Coggins
Thomas Brookes and pictured with mum Helen Wardropper (left) and aunt Cheryl Coggins

Helen, who tried desperately to save her son, says she has been devastated by his death.

“It is absolutely horrendous,” she said.

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“People ask me how I am and I don’t pretend that I am okay, because I am not.

“It is awful.

“I am just trying to get by day-by-day at the moment.”

Assistant Sunderland Coroner Karin Welsh will open an inquest into Thomas’ death at Sunderland Coroner’s Court at 11am on Wednesday, January 15.

Northumbria Police have confirmed the death is not being treated as suspicious and Helen hopes an inquest will look at support for young people with mental health problems in Sunderland.

Speaking shortly after her son’s death, she said Thomas had a number of health issues before he died: “He had had mental health issues for probably the last three years. He also had a really bad sleep disorder and he had been tested for epilepsy, and that was ongoing.

“It is very difficult as a parent. There is still a stigma around mental health. People are frightened of talking about it.

“If Thomas’ injuries were physical, he would probably have had a hospital appointment, but because they weren’t, he didn’t.”

The former Hill View Infants and Juniors and Southmoor Academy pupil had been looking forward to a new chapter in his life after securing an interview for an apprenticeship at Ryhope Post Office.

Humanist celebrant Chris May urged the congregation to remember Thomas when facing their own struggles.

“If, in a quiet moment, if you are not having the best of days yourself, you will always, always have the ability to think of Thomas and all the love and care he carried,” said Mr May.

“I am sure when you do, when you look back at those memories, that dark day will get a little brighter, because his love stays with you.”