Tragic death of Eastbourne teen who ‘always tried to make people happy’

Ashleigh Connor Martin
Ashleigh Connor Martin
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A teen found dead at the foot of Beachy Head was described by friends as ‘always positive’ in an inquest.

The girlfriend of Ashleigh Connor Martin, 19, said he was ‘always trying to make people happy but thought he wasn’t good enough’ in a statement read at Eastbourne Town Hall today (Thursday).

The chef, who worked at the Rainbow Inn in Cooksbridge, died after falling from the cliffs near Belle Tout lighthouse in January.

The statement from his girlfriend Zara Ashleigh said they were happy and she had ‘no idea’ he was going to kill himself.

She said, “We were happy. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m still in shock.”

The night before his death, the inquest heard Ashleigh had left messages with Zara and other friends, including one saying he did not want to live anymore.

Friend Truman Carson said in a statement he would visit Beachy Head often with Ashleigh to relax. He said he broke down when he discovered his friend’s motorcycle and belongings left at the scene with ‘two boxes of pills’.

There was no evidence of drugs in his system, but a toxicologist found he had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood for driving. This, however, was not to the point where it would have affected decision-making, the inquest heard.

The coroner’s court then heard from Ashleigh’s GP, Stephen Dickson, who said Ashleigh had suffered from mental health issues related to PTSD from his childhood.

Mr Dickson told how Ashleigh had been taken into care and lived with his aunt for a long time before returning to live with his father, and later his mother and her partner.

The GP said Ashleigh was referred to mental health services and was placed on antidepressants for depression and anxiety, but was not taking medication at the time of his death.

On his last appointment with Ashleigh in 2016, Mr Dickson said, “His black thoughts had ceased. He was looking for work, he had got his motorbike, and wanted to be a chef.”

Coroner Alan Craze concluded a verdict that Ashleigh Martin had taken his own life.

He said, “One of the tragic parts of this case was he was doing quite well on his antidepressants. If he had been receiving mental health care maybe the outcome would have been different.”

• If you wish to talk to someone about your mental health, or someone you know, contact Samaritans on 01323 735555