A FAMILY has blamed drugs, especially a former “legal high” bought over the internet, for the death of a 22-year-old computer expert.
After months of mental torment, David Page cut his neck with a kitchen knife at his Oakdale home last October while under the influence of a large amount of GBL, or gammabutyrolactane.
The substance, used in paint stripper and stain remover, converts into GHB, or “liquid ecstasy”, in the body and is especially dangerous when used with alcohol and other depressant or sedative drugs.
It was banned for personal use in December after being linked to several deaths.
An inquest at Bournemouth heard that self-employed computer programmer David, whose mother died suddenly just after his 19th birthday, started drinking heavily at weekends and smoking cannabis in 2008. His father Kevin said it became apparent at the end of the year that his son had used cocaine and was becoming paranoid.
He was referred to Dorset HealthCare NHS Trust but continued to drink and did not take his medication. While under the influence of drink and GBL, he threatened his father with a screwdriver, a bottle and knives, and tried to run him over.
“He was ordering quite large quantities of GBL over the internet. If I found it, I would dispose of it. He used to tell me it was the only way he could get sleep,” said Mr Page.
In August, David was taken to Poole Hospital after having an epileptic fit and was sectioned to St Ann’s Hospital for assessment and treatment, but released after appealing to a mental health review panel.
He was sectioned again in September, but allowed home with daily visits from the mental health trust’s crisis team.
The day before he died, he started three small fires at the house.
Mr Page contacted the crisis team, but David started throwing furniture around and barricaded himself in his bedroom. By the time crisis team members arrived just before 1am, he was “stoned out of his head”, said his father.
The community mental health nurse was unable to assess David’s mental health because he was asleep.
Later that morning Mr Page saw him up before leaving for work. Other crisis team members visited the house at 10am, but got no reply.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Page’s partner and her mother went into the house and found David dead. No note was left.
District coroner Sheriff Payne recorded the verdict that David died as a result of cutting his neck while under the influence of GHB.
“The psychiatric services had encountered difficulty in treating and supervising his psychotic illness, which had been compounded by his misuse of drugs and alcohol,” he added.
After the inquest, David’s sister Charlotte said: “He was just a normal lad; then he started smoking cannabis.
“He used to be so anti-drugs and smoking. When he took cocaine, he said: ‘I just want to see what the hype is about’. Ten months later he was dead.”
His father said: “The drugs took over. The quantity of GBL he took has been fatal to other people. I just want to warn people that it can kill.”
By Joanna Codd
APril 2, 2010