Depressed mum hanged herself while on cannabis

A DEPRESSED mother who was high on cannabis took her own life while walking her dog on marshland east of Hailsham.

Stephanie Wainwright, 33, was found hanged from a bridge on a footpath half a mile from her home in Marshfoot Lane on April 24 last year.

An inquest in Eastbourne yesterday heard that Miss Wainwright had used the class B drug since the age of 16.

The voluntary worker told doctors 24 hours before her death that she was feeling depressed 'nearly every day'.

She was prescribed anti-depressants but was found dead by a passer-by the following day.

Miss Wainwright lived with her 16-year-old son in Marshfoot Lane and had been battling an alcohol addiction but had been dry for the last three months of her life, the inquest was told.

Her mother, Valerie, who had been with her daughter the day before she died, said there had been no indication of the tragedy to come.

She said, "She came round in the morning and stayed for about three or four hours and then she went home.

"There was no sign that she wanted to harm herself. She said to me, 'See you tomorrow'.

"She didn't seem depressed. She was low but not depressed. We were very close. She was a happy, smiling person."

The inquest was told that Stephanie took her black Labrador for regular walks across the marshland.

But where she was found was a lot further from home than she usually took him, Mrs Wainwright added.

Dr Savvakis Savvas, of the Bridgeside Surgery in Western Road, saw Miss Wainwright the day before she died.

He said she had complained of depression and he gave her a questionnaire to gauge her mood.

To questions about how often she had little interest or enjoyment in doing things and felt depressed, she responded, "Nearly every day". She also admitted having occasional thoughts of self-harm but told Dr Savvas that she did not feel like hurting herself at that time.

Dr Savvas prescribed her the anti-depressant Citalopram, which can take several weeks to have a positive effect, he said.

She was found dead by retired farmer Ken Walker.

Toxicologist Dr Peter Sharp's report revealed Miss Wainwright was 'high' on cannabis at the time of her death. East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said, "The effects of cannabis are unpredictable to say the least. Experts now believe that as well as increasing psychosis in people, prolonged use, particularly of strong cannabis from an early age, can actually induce psychosis.

"If I was looking for a trigger for the psychosis in this case, that could be it."

Pathologist Dr Christopher Moffat said there was no evidence of anyone else being involved in Miss Wainwright's death.

Mr Craze described Miss Wainwright's death as 'a huge tragedy' and said it may have been a spur-of-the-moment decision.

"If she had waited a while, the medication might have kicked in and she might have been saved."

He recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of her mind was disturbed.