‘Woman with ME killed herself weighing just five stone’

From the Eastern Daily Press, 28 April 2010 (Story by David Bale)

A support group for ME sufferers today called for more help after an inquest was told a woman with the chronic fatigue syndrome weighed just 5st when she committed suicide.


Annette Upton, 36, was found in the bathroom of the home she shared with her parents in New Road, Hethersett, on March 1 last year, a Norwich inquest heard yesterday

The court was told she was so emaciated at the time of her death she weighed just 34kg or just over 5st.

Miss Upton’s father, William Upton told the inquest that she had suffered from ME for many years, but had nowhere to turn to for help.

Afterwards, Dan Ward, from the ME Support group in Norfolk, said Miss Upton was sadly not an isolated case.

He said: “There are many people in Norfolk with ME who don’t know where to turn for help. Sufferers are also sometimes not believed when they talk about their condition.

“This is a serious problem and nothing is really been done to address it. We have about 150 members in Norfolk, but there are at least another 150 people also suffering from ME in the county.”

The inquest heard that Miss Upton had lost 2st in just six months, but doctors could not discover any physical abnormalities that were causing her loss of weight.

Mr Upton told the inquest he found her lifeless body alongside a note in which she said how much she loved her parents and apologised for what she was about to do.

He added: “Before she was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in November 2008, she was not eating anything. We were desperate and could not wait any longer for her to get help. She could not turn to anybody for help with her ME.”

N&N consultant Dr Crawford Jamieson saw Miss Upton when she was admitted to hospital.

He said: “She was very unwell. She was weak and had a past history of ME. She had a body mass index of 14 when a healthy person’s should be between 20 and 25.

“She was seriously underweight. We started re-feeding her to give her nutrition. It was unclear what the cause of her weight loss was, but it was critical.”

He said she started to put on weight while in hospital and was discharged the following month.

But she was admitted to hospital again in January after Dr Jamieson saw her at his outpatients’ clinic and grew concerned that she had not put on weight since her discharge. She was again readmitted to hospital and grew a bit stronger before she was discharged in February, he said.

In between her hospital visits she saw psychiatrist Dr Steve Agius in December and he determined that she had a swallowing problem with food getting stuck in her food pipe.

He said she was unhappy with her weight and did not have an eating disorder as she did not want to lose weight.

He said: “Her weight loss was a result of her difficulty with swallowing and getting full quickly. She had no suicidal thoughts and did not suffer from clinical depression.”

Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide whilst in a disturbed state of mind.

For more information about the Norfolk ME Support group ring 01263 861521 or visit www.sayer.abel.co.uk/MES-N.html.