“If cannabis is safe, why does it lead to so many suicides?” – a coroner’s view

“If cannabis is safe, why does it lead to so many suicides?” – a coroner’s view

Posted On: June 7, 2011
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This article is taken from the Nottingham Post.

THE new Notts coroner has spoken out about the dangers of taking cannabis – after the death of a drug user.

Coroner Mairin Casey says she is dealing with more suicide inquests involving people who developed mental health problems after taking drugs.

She said: “I’ve seen a number of cases come through where the social issues are not there – they have a good background.

“All of a sudden, things go wrong and it’s because they take drugs.

“It’s something that we see quite often, in relation to not just suicide but mental health issues.

“For some people, smoking cannabis is not that different from having a few pints but, for others, almost from the beginning, it can cause mental health problems.”

Miss Casey was speaking after the death of 51-year-old Michael Byrne, who was found hanged at his Eastwood home on May 23 by his father.

Returning a narrative verdict, Miss Casey said it was possible his death could have been avoided if he had not taken cannabis.

She said: “Michael Byrne took his own life by hanging at a time when the balance of his mind was disturbed.

“Had Michael Byrne not experimented with what many people today regard as safe illicit drugs, he may not have suffered paranoid feelings and feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

“Those that promote and supply this drug could be said to have contributed to Michael’s tragic death and the waste of a very precious and important life.”

Nottingham Coroners’ Court heard Mr Byrne had a close family and had developed a successful business as a welder. But about 10 years ago he had started taking cannabis and subsequently suffered from anxiety, paranoia and periods of “low moods”.

The court heard Mr Byrne, of The Nurseries, in Eastwood, also had irrational beliefs, for example telling his dad he thought people were poisoning tap water and going to the police because he feared the BNP were “out to get him”.

Miss Casey added: “I know that many people take the view that cannabis is harmless.

“Unfortunately, what many people do not realise is that they are putting themselves in jeopardy of mental illness and mental health problems triggered by use of this drug.”

Cannabis is a drug that can cause a range of mental health problems, from anxiety and paranoia to psychotic states.

Miss Casey said: “We cannot know for sure but Michael Byrne’s death may have been avoided if he had not used cannabis.”

Miss Casey took over from the previous Notts Coroner, Dr Nigel Chapman, in April.

 

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This article can be found at http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Notts-Coroner-cannabis-safe-does-lead-suicides/story-12717840-detail/story.html