Oliver Martin Roads

On 6th November 2009 an inquest was held into Oliver's death. The coroner gave a narrative verdict: death by starvation, caused by self-neglect, in turn caused by chronic anxiety and personality disorder. In our opinion this was an appropriate verdict. The date of death was given as 22nd April, but his death had actually occurred some time beforehand.

After leaving Exeter University in 1990, Oliver found difficulty in adjusting to adult life. For a couple of years he taught English as a Foreign Language in Britain, but following an attempt to do so in the Czech Republic he contracted ME symptoms, and returned home. A few months later he suffered a breakdown. After some psychiatric treatment he felt able to start a new life living on his own in Wanstead. By his own request we were not to try to contact him on any kind of regular basis. We respected this request.

For the following fifteen years we heard from him sporadically, usually at Christmas. A few other relatives and friends were in touch with him during the earlier years. We knew that he had been able to do some teaching, but also had had bad periods when he was unable to do so. From notes which were found in his flat and some correspondence it was evident that towards the end of his life he had become increasingly agoraphobic, and unable to feed himself. At the inquest we heard that he had been offered support both from Social Services and from the Mental Health authorties. He had rejected both. Further insight into the state of his mind towards the end is provided by the fact that he had disconnected his still live telephone at the wall, and was refusing to open his front door to any visitors at all. To paraphrase the testimony of his GP at the inquest, it is very difficult to help a person who does not want to be helped.

We are sad to lose Oliver, but it seems to us that some kind of end of this nature was inevitable. Even if involuntary intervention had been made at a late stage, it is not clear that the outcome would have been beneficial to Oliver. If any of Oliver's friends and relatives feel the need to contact me about this matter, this is best done via my email, which may be ascertained from the home page.