To view original article click here
08:04, 25 May 2015
By Laura Elvin
Two ‘deeply troubled’ brothers died in a suicide pact by inhaling gas together after one was forced to live in agony, an inquest heard.
Tragic siblings Emanuele and Giuseppe Balasco killed themselves following a year of torment for the youngest of the pair Emanuele, who since the age of 13 had suffered pain in his jaw.
The chronic ache spread to his face after he had a tooth removed when he was 20, leading medical experts to prescribe a catalogue of pain killers and anti-depressants.
But the constant agony triggered depression which also affected caring Giuseppe, who was 12 years older than him.
The pair, who both suffered from anxiety, bought cylinders of gas which they kept in a cupboard “as an option” in case Emanuele’s pain continued.
And after six years of suffering they killed themselves in their adjacent bedrooms, using a homemade plastic mask and gas after researching online.
Emanuele was 26 and Giuseppe 38.
Their distraught parents Anna and Vicenzo sobbed through the hearing while looking at photos of their beloved sons who had an “intense” close relationship.
Their middle brother Domenico, 36, said: “Emanuele and Giuseppe were close.
“When Emanuele was 13, Giuseppe assumed the role of parent and became parent.
“He would be the one to take Emanuele to appointments and generally look after them.”
He added: “The pain [in his face] caused Emanuele a lot of pain and caused Giuseppe’s depression to worsen.
“Emanuele was suffering terribly. He would wait for an appointment with specialists and have CT scans but his depression was making him stressed.
“I understood what they had bought [the gas] for as they had shown on the internet how they could be used to take your own life.”
The inquest heard the British-born brothers had moved to a home next door to their Italian parents in Easton, Bristol, with their grandparents.
When the grandparents passed away they stayed in the house, with eldest brother Giuseppe keeping a close eye on this younger brother.
Emanuele suffered from tooth ache and had one removed aged 20, but the pain continued and got worse.
The desperate brothers even travelled to Canada to get help but doctors there said they should return home for help after diagnosing a jaw problem.
Their father Vicenzo, 63, said in a statement: “He was in a lot of continuing pain.”
The younger sibling visited his GP Robert Douglas at Eastville Surgery in Bristol, in June 2010, and was referred to specialists who could find no medical cause.
When tablets failed to keep the pain under control, Dr Douglas suggested non-pharmaceutical options, but the idea was rejected by the brothers, who often attended appointments together.
Two years later he was informed by someone from the government’s fitness to work team that Emanuele had expressed suicidal intentions, using gas.
Dr Douglas said he got in touch with him and added: “At the time he said he had no intention to end his life but he wanted it there as an option should his symptoms of pain not be helped by medication.”
Dr Douglas suggested again he try getting more psychological help, but the idea was rejected by the brothers who didn’t see it as “compatible” with their beliefs.
Hours before their deaths, their mother Anna, 62, went to check on them and found Emanuele in his bedroom, with the gas cylinders out their box, on January 11.
She told the inquest: “I saw there was two cylinders out of their box by his bed.
“I had seen them in the house before, but I had been told they were for a party.”
The mum-of-five returned home, but got worried when she noticed her sons had not put out the rubbish and their back door was unlocked.
She alerted her husband and they broke through a locked internal door and found their sons in bed, with masks on their faces and gas cylinders by their beds.
She said: “I saw Giuseppe on his bed with a bag over his face like a mask. I took it off with both hands. Giuseppe wasn’t moving.
“I went into Emanuele’s room. He also had a plastic bag over his face, and again I took it off with two hands.
“I was so upset. I am devastated at the loss of my sons.”
Investigating officer Stuart Newsham said evidence was found on computers in the house that the two brothers had researched suicide using gas.
He added: “These boys were deeply troubled.
“Emanuele was suffering from pain. They were both struggling to find a solution for that pain.”
Senior coroner Maria Voison said the brothers died as a result of asphyxiation and inhalation of the gas.
She said: “I have heard evidence from a number of witnesses, some of whom refer to a suicide act between two brothers.
“I heard evidence they were gathering equipment to take their own lives.”