Original article no longer available
The Daily Mirror
Oct 4 2003
By Richard Smith
A YOUNG teacher committed suicide by setting herself on fire after the pressure of work made her depressed. Jane Dibb, 28, fell ill after finding her job as a drama teacher on a one-year contract had been advertised.
She set herself alight in March near a Dartmoor beauty spot and staggered half-a-mile to a clearing where her body was found by police search teams, an inquest heard yesterday.
Her dad Alan, a former lecturer, revealed how dedication to teaching had put enormous strains on her but he suspected her use of the anti-depressant Seroxat also affected her behaviour.
Mr Dibb said: “Towards the end of 2001, Jane called me at about 9.30pm to say she was overwhelmed by the amount of work she had to do. “I drove over to help her – she explained she had to write about 26 reports and mark lots of essays.
“She told me the union recommended they write only 40 words for each report – as a way of limiting their time. But this did not work for Jane. She said to me: ‘If I can only write 40 words, I have to make sure every one counts.’
“Jane finished her work very late, then had to get up early to prepare for the next day. The pressures were incredible, she was losing her social life and rarely had a chance to see her boyfriend in London.”
Mr Dibb told the hearing he blamed the anti-depressant drug Seroxat – linked to 16 deaths in Britain – for her suicide.
He said: “Since she died I have done some research on Seroxat and I believe she acted completely out of character. She had a lot of things going for her. She had a good job, a house and a boyfriend of 10 years. The pupils loved her, the parents loved her and other teachers loved her.
“There have been a number of cases where people have committed suicide when taking Seroxat. Most people benefit tremendously from it but Jane reacted negatively. I believe she was driven to do what she did. It was not something she wanted to do. I believe she died because of the medication.”
Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland yesterday adjourned the inquest so evidence could be collected of any link between the drug and her death.
Seroxat was prescribed to more than 400,000 people in the UK last year but it is linked to suicides and mood swings.
GlaxoSmithKline, who make the drug, have denied it can cause problems. But hundreds of users have taken out legal cases against the firm claiming the drug has devastated their health.
Jane, of Fowey, Cornwall, taught English and drama at Penair Secondary School in Truro, Cornwall. Dozens of pupils posted tributes to her on a website set up by her family.
Tom Brook wrote: “There will always be a place for you in my heart – perhaps that little place that nags me to revise for my literature paper instead of watching Graham Norton.”
And Alice Reynolds wrote a note saying: “I always knew when I went to English and drama that I always had a friend in you.”