London - A bright university student used her biomedical expertise to kill herself with an overdose of caffeine, an inquest heard.
Sophia Benning, 24, was found dead in her digs in March, just months before she was due to complete her degree.
A suicide note found near the biomedical science undergraduate said: ‘I’m tired of putting on this facade. I’m tired of putting on a fake smile when I’m emotionally dying.’
Both the coroner and the pathologist involved in the inquest said it was the first time they had seen a death from caffeine toxicity. An inquest into Miss Benning’s death this week was told she had been struggling with depression in the months before she died while studying at the University of Salford.
Her boyfriend contacted relatives after becoming concerned about posts she had written online. One said: ‘Before next week/by Monday. I’m ready to go. I have nothing left. I can’t stop thinking about suicide and NEED to go.’
Another added: ‘Last weekend here on planet Earth.’ The court heard that Miss Benning’s sister, Sarah Singh, arranged to take her to hospital on March 18, where she saw a mental health nurse.
Miss Benning, originally from Telford, Shropshire, was discharged and told to go and see her GP but was found dead the following day. A post-mortem examination revealed Miss Benning had several times the fatal level of caffeine in her blood.
She had bought the legal stimulant after doing her own research into the drug. Miss Singh said: ‘We asked her what she had ordered and she refused to answer.’ The inquest in Bolton heard there were no warnings about dosage or excessive usage on the caffeine Miss Benning bought.
The court heard Miss Benning had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, but was very bright and did well at school and college. She was among the best performing students in her year and last week was awarded a posthumous first class degree by the university.
Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Alan Walsh said: ‘I have been a coroner sitting at this court for more than 18 years and this is the first ever death from caffeine toxicity, which is a very unusual cause of death.’Daily Mail