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The Peterborough Telegraph
May 2, 2005
A FATHER who went looking for his son after he failed to return home found him hanging from a tree. A student at Durham University, 21-year-old James Hirst had suffered from an irritable bowel since 2002. But extensive hospital tests failed to show what was causing the problem, and doctors thought depression might be a factor.
Anti-depressants were prescribed, including a controversial drug called venlafaxine, which has been claimed to increase the risk of suicide.
But, while doctors treating James, of Home Farm, Main Road, Uffington, near Stamford, suspected depression, he blamed feeling down on his physical condition.
At an inquest held at Stamford Town Hall, James’s father, Philip, described how he came to find his son’s body on December 18, last year.
He said: “James went out at about 7.30pm in his car saying he was going to collect a DVD from Stamford. “But after a while he had not returned home, and I assumed he was staying out with friends.”
The following morning his bed had not been slept in, calls to his mobile remained unanswered and a search of the house and outbuildings proved fruitless.
Philip decided to take a drive around the farm and headed into Morley Wood, where he spotted his son’s parked car.
He said: “I felt a sense of relief when I saw the car, and thought he had gone for a walk.”
But after getting out of his car, Philip saw his son’s motionless body hanging by a rope from a nearby tree.
James was pronounced dead at the scene, and a post mortem examination confirmed the cause of death as hanging.
According to medical records, James had not suffered from suicidal tendencies, but refused two separate referrals to see a psychiatrist. Just 11 days before he died, he was prescribed venlafaxine and his parents noticed a deterioration in their son’s health.
In recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Gordon Ryall offered the family the chance to have a closer look at the effects of the drug on their son’s health. But he warned they may not learn anything more from further investigation.
02 March 2005