Inquest told how mum found tragic son’s body
A teenager who took his own life three weeks before his 18th birthday fell into the depths of depression after becoming hooked on mephedrone, an inquest has heard.
Lee Campbell was found dead at his Glenville Court home in Newtownabbey on March 15, 2010.
Blood samples taken at an autopsy found traces of mephedrone, the so-called ‘legal high’ which was banned last year, plus cannabis and diazepam.
A sitting at the Old Town Hall in Belfast on Monday heard how the young apprentice joiner had been abusing drugs since the age of 12 and had developed depression aged around 16. Lee had also been engaged in self-harming, superficially cutting himself 20 or 30 times in 2009.
Shirley Campbell, wept as she recalled finding her son’s lifeless body in the hall of their home.
Mrs Campbell told the court she had watched her son deteriorate after becoming addicted to mephedrone.
“There was deterioration in all ways,” she said. “The way he was, was scaring me. There was the drastic loss of weight, his face started to distort and we knew then something was seriously wrong. That was anything up to two months before his death. There was a drastic change.”
Lee had previously experimented with a cocktail of recreational drugs including cocaine, ecstacy, cannabis and finally, mephedrone.
He had, however, sought help and was sporadically attending counselling sessions at the Dunlewey Substance Advice Centre in Belfast.
On the weekend before his death Lee had moved back home to live with his parents, told them he wanted to turn his life around, get off drugs and join the Army.
“The Saturday night prior to his death, that’s when he broke and said he needed to come off everything,” Mrs Campbell added.
“He said he had been on a lot more than we thought. He needed off everything. He said he had signed up to the Army, he needed a new career in his life, he needed to take a new path. I think that was him trying to steer clear of everything. I just feel as if the drugs took him so low.”
Dr Peter Cusick, who had seen Lee on the afternoon before his death, said he had been encouraged because Lee had made plans for his future. He said he did not display suicidal tendencies during the assessment.
He acknowledged a gap in the system for treating under-18s with mental health issues.
Coroner Suzanne Anderson concluded: “The deceased, Richard Lee Campbell, died by his own act.”