Belfast Telegraph

Grieving Derry woman Kirstie Harrigan (25) took her own life

By George Jackson

A coroner has appealed to young people who are struggling with mental health issues to immediately seek help from medical experts.

Paddy McGurgan made the appeal at Londonderry courthouse yesterday following the inquest into the death of a 25-year-old woman who deliberately overdosed on an antidepressant drug just three months after finding her partner of five years dead in bed.

Kirstie Harrigan, from Racecourse Drive Derry's Shantallow area, ingested a large amount of Citalopram in the early hours of May 11 this year.

She left a note for her family that said: "I love youse, I'm sorry, XXXX."

Messages were also found on Ms Harrigan's Samsung tablet relating to the death of her partner. One message asked "Will my boyfriend get a girlfriend in heaven?". Another questioned: "Do you fall in love in heaven?". And a third said "Letter to my dead boyfriend."

Family members and friends of Ms Harrigan told the coroner that the deceased, a former school catering assistant, constantly and deeply grieved following her boyfriend's sudden death. She told them "I do not know how I can go on without him".

A police officer told the inquest that Ms Hannigan had carried out a series of internet searches about overdosing on medications.

One of the searches was made just hours before she was found dead in bed by her best friend. "It is quite clear she wanted to be with her boyfriend again," the officer said.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram told the inquest that death was caused by poisoning by Citalopram. He said the deceased had three times the fatal limit in her blood, which equated to 10 times the prescribed amount.

Dr Ingram said that after ingesting the drug the deceased would have fallen asleep and drifted into a deep coma before succumbing to the toxic effects of the overdose.

The coroner said it was obvious Kirstie's death had caused absolute devastation to her immediate and wider family circles and to her many friends.

"It must be doubly difficult in the mouth of Christmas for her family and friends to have to come to court and to tell about the death of their loved one," he said. "If something positive can come out of this inquest, it is that young people who are in the depths of despair and who for whatever reason are contemplating taking their own life, should seek and avail of the help that is there for them.

"If they were in this courtroom today to see the absolute trauma Kirstie's family live on a daily basis, I have no doubt those young people would seek such help.

"I just hope that by highlighting the dangers and difficulties these people may find with their mental health, it might assist other people to seek help and thus save another life."

Mr McGurgan said that Kirstie "died by her own act while the balance of her mind was disturbed following the death of her partner which caused a severe grief reaction and severe depression".

Belfast Telegraph

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