‘A heart of gold’: Family’s tribute to Chesterfield teen who took his own life

Jacob Bates with his mum Susan Cheetham in happier times.
Jacob Bates with his mum Susan Cheetham in happier times.

The mother of an autistic 17-year-old who took his own life has spoken of her pain in a heartbreaking interview.

On Saturday, July 15, Jacob Bates left a suicide note in his bedroom before going to Walton dam and taking his own life.

Jacob had struggled with a catalogue of mental health problems since being diagnosed with autism at the age of 14 - spending time in countless mental health hospitals the length and breadth of the country.

His mum, Susan Cheetham, 40, said: “There was nobody that didn’t like Jacob - he was so caring and thoughtful and friendly.

“He just wanted to please people and make them feel happy. We were lucky to have him in our lives.”

“Everybody who met Jacob fell in love with him,” agreed step-dad Chris Bates, 44.

“He was just a loving young man with a heart of gold.”

The couple - who live in Loundsley Green - said they felt they needed to put a name and a face to the story of what happened that day at the dam, so Jacob’s identity didn’t get lost in hurtful rumour and speculation.

“It wasn’t just some random person,” said Susan.

“It was a very troubled and confused autistic boy who felt he didn’t have enough to offer.”

Jacob’s parents said a large part of his recent troubles were the way he felt about having to live on benefits.

“Being on benefits made him feel like he was unworthy - like he didn’t fit into society,” said Chris.

However, as well as his personal anxiety, Susan said her son was not helped by the current inadequacy of the mental health services for adolescents.

“The resources are just not out there - the system is a mess,” she said.

“We have spent the last three years travelling around after him - doing everything we can to make sure he was still part of our family and still loved.”

Chris added: “He would get short term placements at hospitals but never long enough to feel like he could trust the medical staff.”

As well as his parents, Jacob leaves two younger sisters - Ruby, 9, and Blossom, 6, and an older brother, Josh, 19.

His funeral will take place at Brimington Crematorium at 1.10pm on Thursday, August 10. Everyone who knew Jacob is welcome to attend.

A Just Giving fundraising website, set up by friends of the family, is available by clicking here