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By Tom Houghton
17:42, 11 JUL 2016, Updated 12:31, 19 JUL 2016
Lauren McQuaid, 21, was described by her family as a ‘happy and bright girl
A Cardiff student described as “a happy, bright girl” took her own life after suffering from exam pressures, an inquest heard on Monday.
Lauren McQuaid was found dead at the age of 21 at her student home in Cathays by her boyfriend Michael Wanklin.
Assistant coroner Thomas Atherton told Cardiff Coroner’s court Ms McQuaid died on April 28 after an overdose of antidepressants.
She was working hard on her coursework
In a statement read out by the coroner, Mr Wanklin said third-year Cardiff University Biochemistry student Ms McQuaid had told him she needed space to work on her coursework but they had arranged to meet at Costa in Albany Road on April 27.
She didn’t show up to the cafe and so Mr Wanklin went to check on her at her home and presumed she was too busy to meet due to her coursework.
The statement read: “I gave her a kiss on her forehead and she felt warm. She had been working hard so I didn’t worry as I assumed she was just sleeping.”
Through statements from Ms McQuaid’s housemates, which were also read out in court, it was revealed her housemates also heard her “coughing and gargling” during the night.
But they thought nothing of it and presumed she was spending time with her boyfriend.
He found a suicide note
The next day, having not heard from Ms McQuaid, Mr Wanklin visited the house again the next afternoon. But when he found her he realised she had died.
He said he also found an A4 paper pad which turned out to be a suicide note written to her mother, which he had seen the day before, but thought nothing of it.
Mr Wanklin also said: “I feel that I have let Lauren and her mum down in that I did not realise what her intentions were at the time.”
In a statement read out by the coroner, her mother Joanne, said: “She was a bright, happy girl and the life and soul of the party. She lit up the room when she entered.”
The court also heard Ms McQuaid had not been happy with her weight and had attended Weight Watchers, winning a number of awards from the weight loss assistance firm.
The inquest took place at the coroner’s court in Cardiff
She had met Mr Wanklin at one of the organisation’s meetings in October 2015.
Mr Wanklin also suffered from depression, the court heard, but Ms McQuaid had “played a big part” in helping him through it.
The coroner revealed how Ms McQuaid, from Norton, Gloucestershire, had self-harmed in the past, and had used razors and cigarettes to do so.
Her medical history was read out and the coroner said she had frequented the doctor at the end of 2014 after being diagnosed with depression.
But her condition began to deteriorate in December, and she asked for a “not fit to work” note to be written for university.
A year passed and in December 2015, which was the last time the doctor had seen her, she had lost 4st and “in summary, she was doing well”, and was taking her antidepressants.
She had also recently heard her brother and his girlfriend were to have a baby, so she was to be an aunt.
Dr Thomas Hockey, who carried out the postmortem and was present at the court on Monday, July 11, said the examination following Ms McQuaid’s death on April 28 had found “scarring to her arms, chest and left leg”, and an “excessive congestion” of antidepressants prior to her death.
The coroner returned a conclusion of suicide, caused by toxicity, and added: “It’s clear what her intentions were at around that time, particularly with her history of depression and of cuts to herself.
‘A truly fantastic person’
“I think it’s quite clear that not only was it a deliberate act in taking tablets, but I think Lauren, being an intelligent young woman, she must have known that taking such an amount of the substance would have led to her death.
“In an extremely upsetting and tragic case that someone with so much to live for could be overcome by her depression at such a critical time of her life, it may have been the stress put on her by her studies that led to this.”
Speaking after the inquest, her father, Dr Stuart McQuaid, said: “She was truly a fantastic person and it’s so sad.
“We wish we could have helped her reach her full potential.”