Inquest hears painkillers led to Stroud man's suicide

12:10pm Sunday 3rd July 2011

By SNJ Reporter

THE wife of a 49-year-old Stroud man who took his own life believes the painkillers he was prescribed for chronic back pain worsened the depression and paranoia which led to his suicide.

Simon Allen was found dead in his car at a lay-by on the A38 at Newport, Glos, surrounded by empty packets of painkillers, an inquest heard yesterday.

He left a note apologising for what he was about to do.

His wife Susan said she was alarmed about the doses of drugs he was taking for his back pain because of their side effects. She criticised what she described as 'lacklustre' medical care of her husband.

Gloucestershire Deputy Coroner David Dooley was told that Mr Allen, of The Stirrup, Cashes Green, Stroud, Glos, was found dead in his Saab convertible on June 30 last year.

Mother of two Mrs Allen said her husband had suffered from chronic back pain from his early life, but this became worse in his early forties and he could no longer work.

"Up to then we had our ups and downs but always did everything together and loved each other very much," she said.

"During the whole time of his treatment for back pain and depression my opinion was never sought, even though I knew his behaviour changed with the doctor and the mental health team.

"Simon was able to control the situation when he was with them.

"But I was unaware of the impact on his mental health. He pinned all his hopes on an operation but the results were minimal and his recovery slow. The consultant told him nothing else could be done.

"He was an intelligent, sensitive man in the middle of building an interior design business when this happened.

"I was alarmed by the doses of painkillers he was taking and so I researched into the side effects and I believe these were a significant factor in his depression and paranoid tendencies."

Mr Allen pushed away formerly close members of his family she said, and had feelings that they were spreading rumours about him.

"But there were no problems in the family. They were generated by his own thought processes."

She felt that if she had been listened to over the years his problems could have been handled much better. It had been a lacklustre performance by those in a position to help him.

"Even when went into the Wotton Lawn mental health unit for two weeks he said he thought it had been a complete waste of time," she added.

"There was something missing in the treatment of a broken mind," she added.

Mr Allen’s GP Dr Samantha Boden said he was being treated with a wide range of drugs including the painkiller tramadol and anti-depressants.

"I referred him to the pain clinic but he did not attend the last appointment," she said.

"Between December 2010 and January 2011 his mental state was stable."

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Sally Morgan said Mr Allen had taken an impulsive overdose in 2008 and had admitted to two previous overdoses.

"In March 2010 at his last review he was thought to be improving and was more positive about his future."

A post mortem found that Mr Allen had four times the lethal dose of tramadol in his blood.

Summing up. Mr Dooley said to record a verdict of suicide, he had to be sure beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Allen intended to take his own life.

"The note left indicated he was going to take an overdose, and he took an amount from which recovery was very unlikely in a place where he was unlikely to be disturbed," he said.

Verdict: Took his own life.

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