Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Drug 'may cause suicidal thoughts'

A friend lays flowers at the scene in Cramlington, Northumberland, where Christopher Harrington, 20, and Kieran Kenny, 19, were found dead

A coroner has warned about the dangers of the drug mephedrone after two young men who were discovered hanging were later found to have taken it.

Friends Christopher Harrington, 20, and Kieran Kenny, 19, hanged themselves in woodland near their homes in Cramlington, Northumberland, last July.

The schoolmates, who had both worked in the local McDonalds, were found to have enough alcohol in their systems to theoretically put them well over the drink-drive limit.

Assistant deputy coroner for Northumberland Paul Dunn told an inquest at Wansbeck Hospital that both were found to have mephedrone in their systems as well, though it was not possible to say how much they had taken, or when.

He issued a warning to young people that the drug, known as miaow miaow and which was legal at the time, has been linked to many suicides.

Mr Dunn said: "It's quite clear both men had taken mephedrone. The police have carried out extensive inquiries in relation to that, looking at telephones, computers, and obviously speaking at length to their friends - I stress it was not illegal to possess or take the drug at the time - to establish what happened."

He said in this case there was nothing specific to say the drug caused both men - who left notes to their families and friends - to kill themselves. He added: "Clearly, I have a responsibility to the wider public for them to be aware of the risks involved in taking this particular drug."

Last June, all pathologists and coroners were circulated a warning from a private forensic lab which said around 50% of the suicides by hanging or shooting that it had dealt with in the first half of 2010 involved people who had recently taken mephedrone, he said.

"It could be that the 'come down' is more pronounced from these drugs than other stimulants, for example ecstasy," he said. "There is growing evidence to suggest that mephedrone or miaow miaow could cause suicidal tendencies."

Mr Dunn, who recorded a verdict that both men took their own lives, added: "I stress very firmly that there is no evidence to suggest that (taking mephedrone) had an influence in the decision that either Christopher or Kieran took on that occasion."

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