From The Daily Mail Online, 25 April 2014 (Story by Lizzie Edmonds).
Man crippled by ME for 30 years killed himself using drugs recipe from suicide handbook – and left notes warning fire crew what they would find in the house
– Jonathan Hales, 48, was bedridden having suffered from ME for 30 years
– Man found dead in bathroom of his home in Bracknell, Berkshire
– Had taken drugs similar to those found in euthanasia clinics, inquest told
– Man wrote notes to emergency services warning about his death
– A verdict of suicide while suffering from ME was recorded today
A man crippled by severe ME for 30 years took his own life by taking a cocktail of drugs, an inquest heard today.
Jonathan Hales, 48, Bracknell, Berkshire, was left bedridden by his illness, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
The man, who refused any mental health assessments and treatment he viewed as useless for his physical problems, became a recluse because of the condition.
Mr Hales was found dead in his home after suffering a drugs overdose. He had taken a mixture of drugs he found in a handbook, an inquest heard.
The man had left a series of notes to emergency services warning them there was a dead body in the house, a coroner heard.
A verdict of suicide was recorded at the inquest in Windsor, Berkshire today.
Peter Bedford, senior coroner for Berkshire noted: ‘He was a man who planned this meticulously, researching it and executing it.’
The inquest heard how Mr Hales’ father, Anthony, had alerted emergency services on November 5 after he was unable to reach his son.
Officers from Thames Valley Police forced their way in to his home in Bracknell, Berkshire just after 2pm. Fire crews found a sign on the bathroom door which warned: ‘Dead body in here, vent thoroughly.’
Police constable Andrew Gawe, of Thames Valley Police, said in a statement: ‘Notes to family members were discovered on the cooker in the kitchen.’
Mr Hales was declared dead by paramedics at 2.42pm. A post-mortem examination and toxicology report revealed ‘very high’ levels of drugs in his system.
Home Office pathologist Dr Rezan Gardi concluded that Mr Hales had died of a drug overdose, causing respiratory failure.
Coroner Peter Bedford read from a report from Mr Hales’ GP, Dr Martin Kittel, detailing his medical history.
The inquest heard he had been diagnosed with ME in 1985 but more recently concerns had been raised over suicide.
Dr Kittel described Mr Hales as ‘The worst ME sufferer I have ever met.’
He said that, having been asked to give a second opinion on Mr Hales by an exasperated doctor in 2009, he took over as his GP and was involved in ‘many hundreds’ of conversations by email and telephone
discussing his condition.
Dr Kittel set up Skype accounts to allow Mr Hales to speak directly with him more easily and he was repeatedly referred to mental health nurses following suicide attempts but he refused to allow them to enter his home and assess him properly.
Mr Hales also told his GP not to speak to his family.
He said his numerous medications would not be useful for an overdose and detailing extensive medical research on their effects.
‘There is no doubt this was carefully planned and executed,’ said Dr Kittel.
‘The reasons for his death were his unbearable personal situation and almost total isolation but I don’t believe anything anybody could have done could have changed this course of action.’
Following Mr Hales’ death, a serious incident review was launched by Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust. It found despite several efforts by mental health staff, Mr Hales had declined treatment.
‘Jonathan continued to report his view that mental health services were of no help to his situation and physical suffering,’ said the report.
It detailed one instance where a neighbour had alerted authorities after he had written to them stating that if they didn’t stop DIY works he would kill himself.
‘Nurses went around but he refused to answer the door. He later faxed a message to say he had no intention of killing himself,’ said the report.
Mr Bedford praised the trust’s efforts but said nothing could have been done to prevent Mr Hales from killing himself.
Anthony Hales expressed his surprise at the huge volume of interaction between Dr Kittel and his son, as he said Mr Hales had barely ever mentioned the doctor.
His mother, Dr Rose Hammond, told the inquest that she suspected her son had ‘a degree of autism’ which was never diagnosed and said his aversion to hospitals and psychiatric units may have stemmed from an early experience in a ward in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
A statement from Dr Hammond and Anthony Hales said: ‘Our son loved his athletics, his art, gardening and the countryside.
‘Sadly in his late teens he contracted a severe form of chronic fatigue syndrome which was to lead to 30 years of weakness, pain, depression and increasing social isolation.
‘Many professional health workers gave their caring support through the years; his general practitioner was exceptionally kind and patient, but nothing could alleviate his problems and he finally took his own life last November.
‘If there is to be any future for ME sufferers we need a co-ordinated service which can address the multiple aspects of this complex disease.
‘A residential centre where the worst affected could receive the loving support we currently offer to those enduring other severe illnesses could also serve as a research centre,’ added Dr Hammond.
‘Perhaps in years to come this will be the means to prevent the tragedy we call by several different names, because it is so little understood.’
WHAT IS ME?
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)causes persistent exhaustion in sufferers which does not go away despite rest or sleep.
About 250,000 people in the UK have CFS. It is more common in woman than in men and usually develops in the early 20s. It is a serious condition that can cause long-term illness and disability. However, many people do improve with time.
Most cases of CFS are mild or moderate, but up to one in four people with CFS have severe symptoms. Those with severe symptoms are only able to carry out minimal daily tasks and have significantly reduced