Student killed himself after feeling unable to cope
By Natalie Slater
February 16, 2009
A psychology student from The University of Reading killed himself after struggling with the pressures of his finals, an inquest heard.
The coroner was told that James Smith was only 21 when he took his own life in October last year after battling with feelings of lethargy and depression and being unable to cope with his job and university course.
After a string of appointments with his university doctor – when he revealed his struggles – that led to him being put on anti-depressants, Mr Smith failed to recover and drove himself to a field adjacent to the B481 in Sonning Common on October 23 last year where he gassed himself.
His body was found the following day by a man walking his dog.
Mr Smith, of Charles Street in the town centre, worked at Teccura, a utility company based in Grazeley, and had previously been a barman at the now closed Fez Club.
His friend and former housemate Roxanne Scammell gave evidence at the inquest at Oxford County Court and told Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner that James, also known as Jaime, had threatened suicide on a number of previous occasions.
She said: “For all the time I knew him his moods were very up and down, but he was definitely more down towards the end of his life.
“He had tried three times over the last year to commit suicide, once with the car again and twice when he was found at the top of The Oracle shopping centre.
“At the time I never thought he ever would actually go through with it but now, looking back, I don’t know.”
Mr Smith’s distraught parents, who live in Banbury, also attended the inquest.
His mother had written on his Facebook profile, which is still active, the day after his funeral in November saying: “There will always be a Jaime-shaped void in our lives, but together we will fill it with love and memories.
“I know you are at peace because you have shown me, but oh my darling, how we miss you. XxXXxx”
After Mr Smith’s death, a handwritten note from May last year and a note on his laptop were discovered and both were suggested as suicide notes although the inquest heard it could not be determined when he wrote the computer note.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Gardiner said: “Although all the evidence is of a circumstantial nature I am satisfied he had the intention of taking his own life and that he put that into action on October 23.
“The post mortem reveals a picture of a young man with normal health who died from carbon monoxide poisoning of over 60 per cent which is way above the lethal range.”