Mother unveils Ned's Fund in memory of son who took his own life to help others who suffer in silence

A mother whose son took his own life has revealed her plan to offer a “lifeline” to other young people in distress.

Jo Marsden’s son Ned Harris died aged 20 when he was hit by a train on the Waterloo to Portsmouth mainline on July 17 last year.

The third of her four children, he had become estranged from his family after being excluded from school. 

Ned had threatened suicide at school aged 16 but no one thought he was suffering from mental ill health and a GP sent him home without any follow-up checks.

Today Ms Marsden, 55, a chef, unveiled Ned’s Fund in his memory, and wants to raise money to help young people who drop out of education to enrol on vocational courses to help them regain a focus in life.

Ned Harris died aged 20 when he was hit by a train last year (ES local feed )

She told the Evening Standard: “I’m wanting to turn his life into something very positive for someone else. 

“It’s to try to stop them getting lost in the system, feeling that life is pointless. It’s about telling them they are remarkable and there is always a way forward.

“The whole point with Ned is that he showed no signs of mental illness whatsoever. He was very bright but couldn’t compute it to education. Education bored him.

“It’s every parent’s nightmare. I was desperate that he couldn’t talk to me. This is about raising awareness of the ‘chameleon’ — a child who displays no outward signs.”

Ned, whose siblings are Tom, 27, Henry, 25, and Millie, 19, died at Witley station in Surrey. At an inquest in Woking in July, the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 20 to 34, and accounted for 23.7 per cent of male deaths in this age group last year.

After Ned’s death, Ms Marsden, who lives near Petersfield, Hampshire, asked to see his medical records. “There was a blank screen,” she said. “There was no follow-up or offer of counselling.

“He spent a lot of time excluded from the classroom for being disruptive. He was difficult but showed no signs of what you would think of as mental illness. At the end I don’t think he could see a way out.”

Ms Marsden, who has been invited to speak to British Transport Police officers about railway suicide, said: “My dream is to help as many children as I can by funding vocational training. I’m not a fairy godmother but nothing would bring me greater happiness.”

For confidential support on mental health call the Samaritans on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit a local Samaritans branch

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