A first-year York student took his own life because he believed, wrongly, that he had advanced cancer, an inquest heard.

Charles Johnson, 18, was found dead in his accommodation on the University of York campus shortly after he arrived for the 2023/2024 academic year to start a degree course in computer science.

Assistant coroner for York and North Yorkshire Alison Norton said notes found near his body and a blog revealed he believed he had bowel cancer that had spread to his brain and chest, which was not survivable, and that he had decided to take his own life, rather than suffer.

“The decision had been made before he had left home for the university and that he would do so once at the university,” she said.

A post mortem revealed that Mr Johnson's internal organs were healthy, said the coroner. She recorded a finding of suicide.

A University of York spokesperson said: "We were deeply saddened by the death of Charles and our thoughts are with his family and friends. Any students affected by his death can reach out for support through their college teams or the university's open door team."

Mr Johnson’s father, James, provided evidence for the inquest that his son had grown up on a farm in Spalding, south Lincolnshire, and had been “happy to start university”.

He had gained three As at A-level in maths, physics and computer science, above his ABB university place offer, and an A-level in further maths.

“He was an excellent student, very intelligent, he knew everything about technology,” the father’s statement to the inquest said.

Before going to university, his son had been doing work experience writing software and had been planning a career as a computer engineer.

The inquest at Northallerton Coroner’s Court heard that Charles Johnson arrived at university on September 16. He last spoke to other students when they knocked on his door on September 17 or September 18 and he declined an invitation to go for some drinks, saying he was still unpacking.

James Johnson contacted the university on September 20, because he had lost contact with his son and was concerned about him.

University safety officer, Trevor Oakley, in written evidence, said the son’s room was locked, but he and a colleague gained entrance at 11.15am and found his body.

They also found papers with the notes and blog details.

A Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic declared Charles Johnson dead at 11.51 am.

Police officers gave evidence that the son’s luggage didn’t appear to have been unpacked, there were no signs of a struggle, the window was closed and there was no evidence anyone other than Charles Johnson had been there. They concluded the death was not suspicious.

Histopathologist consultant Matthew Toy, who carried out the post mortem, said there were no traces of alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs in Charles' body.

Dr Naseer Khan, Charles Johnson’s GP in Spalding, gave evidence that the son had been referred to local mental health support services for young people in September 2021 and advised to reduce his time in front of a computer screen.

In October 2021, the father told the surgery the son was feeling “much better”.

The surgery’s doctors had not seen Charles regarding his mental health since.

James Johnson told the coroner’s officer he thought his son may be autistic, but had not been diagnosed with the condition.

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