Devastated mother blames cannabis addiction for daughter's suicide

Devastated mother blames cannabis addiction for daughter's suicide

January 26, 2021

Devastated mother blames cannabis addiction for her daughter’s suicide after ‘paranoid’ 23-year-old jumped to her death from multi-storey car park

  • Kerry Head says daughter Emily Rowling became paranoid the more she smoked 
  • Emily diagnosed with mental health issues but medics could not force treatment
  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details 

A devastated mother has blamed cannabis for the death of her ‘beautiful, bright and fun’ young daughter who took her own life by jumping off a multi-storey car park.

Kerry Head, from Long Eaton in Derbyshire, says her daughter Emily Rowling became addicted to the drug and ‘became paranoid’ the more she smoked. 

Emily, who was just 23, had been diagnosed with mental health conditions but doctors did not have the power to force her to accept treatment. 

Kerry Head, from Long Eaton in Derbyshire, says her daughter Emily Rowling became addicted to the drug and ‘became paranoid’ the more she smoked

Speaking after her inquest, which recorded a verdict of suicide, Ms Head said: ‘I would wholeheartedly say there’s a false sense of security around cannabis. 

‘They say no one has died from taking cannabis, but I disagree, my daughter has. It was difficult to try and get her to seek help. I was so worried about her, but she wouldn’t let us help. We felt so helpless.

‘We took advice from a drug help line, which said we should cut her off and not give her money as she would just spend it on cannabis. 

‘The advice we were given was she would only help herself when she hits rock bottom.

‘We would give her cash cards she could spend at Asda for food so she couldn’t spend cash on cannabis, but we later found out she was buying video games with them and selling them to get the cash.

‘When she wasn’t angry with us for not giving her the money she would admit that she was stealing food from Asda and Sainsbury’s.’

Mrs Head says she, and many other people in Emily’s life, were left heartbroken by her death.

‘I consider myself very lucky to have had the time with Emily that I did,’ she said.

‘She was so bright, she was completely accepting of everybody. She was so much fun, she was quirky and spontaneous.

‘I remember she once went running across Tower Bridge in London in a cow onesie – she embraced life. She was a beautiful person.’

Emily, who was just 23, had been diagnosed with mental health conditions but doctors did not have the power to force her to accept treatment

Emily was found unresponsive outside a multi-storey car park in Nottingham on May 14, 2019.

The inquest heard she had a history of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, with her mental health deteriorating in the two years leading up to her death.

Derby Coroner’s Court was told by Emily’s parents that towards the end of her life she became convinced she could hear other people’s thoughts and believed she was Mary Magdalene.

The inquest heard that Emily displayed signs of psychosis – which can lead people to experience hallucinations or delusions – but would often refuse to seek help and tried to hide this from doctors.

Dr Duncan Gooch, a GP at The Golden Brook Practice in Long Eaton, where Emily was registered, told the inquest discussions had been had about whether it would be possible to get her sectioned (detained under the Mental Health Act) for her own safety.

‘The advice was as she wasn’t a risk to herself or other people we wouldn’t be able to use the Mental Health Act,’ he said.

‘In General Practice we work in collaboration – we have little ability to force ourselves on a patient who does not want help. I think it’s a particularly difficult situation for other people looking in.

‘The Mental Health Act is very clear on the circumstances in which I can be involved in a forced treatment of someone against their will, which is understandably a high threshold.’

Emily was found unresponsive outside a multi-storey car park in Nottingham on May 14, 2019.

He said that Emily, who had previously been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, did come into the surgery for appointments and concerns about her wellbeing from her parents had been noted.

‘I had encouraged Emily to share what she was going through with her parents,’ Dr Gooch said.

‘It was quite clear that her parents were concerned about her and it was important that Emily try to share to alleviate their anxiety.

‘We can share very limited information with family because we needed Emily’s permission.’

He said that in the year leading up to her death, Emily had come into the surgery a number of times and although some of the things she had described in her life were concerning, there was nothing that could be described as psychotic.

‘Psychosis is a very difficult diagnosis to make,’ he said. ‘Delusions have very little basis, they don’t tend to have a detailed explanation. As we start challenging a delusion, the patient often says they feel it’s true.

‘She [Emily] was able to respond with a coherent and sensible answer to that. It was a clear and understandable logic in to how she got that view.’

In his last appointment with Emily just over a month before she died, Dr Gooch said Emily was complaining about having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and he signed her off work for two months to recuperate.

Miss Sabyta Kaushal, assistant coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, recorded a medical cause of death as trauma to the head and a conclusion of suicide.

She said the health services had done all they could to help Emily. ‘I appreciate that today has been difficult,’ she said.

‘I think the evidence indicates that he [Dr Gooch] did what he was supposed to do and did attempt to assist Emily.

‘At times she engaged with the relevant medical advice and other times she did not. It’s an upsetting case’.

To donate to PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide in Emily’s memory, visit Just Giving.  

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. 

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