London - A teenager killed himself by overdosing on caffeine – in the same month as a student took her own life in a similar way.
Damian Szarach, 17 – whose hopes of joining the police had been dashed – was found dead in his bedroom just days after he had bought the drug legally on the internet for £28.
A post-mortem examination revealed he had four times the fatal level of caffeine in his blood. An inquest into his death came just two weeks after a hearing into the death of biomedical science undergraduate Sophia Benning, 24, who killed herself by overdosing on caffeine.
She had used her expertise to research fatal doses of it before committing suicide in March.
At the hearing into Damian’s death, Dr Samantha Holden, a paediatric pathologist, questioned why caffeine was so easy to obtain. "I’m not quite sure why it is available online," she said.
Damian was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), the hearing at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court was told.
And in his suicide note, the teenager explained he decided to kill himself because of the order, which he said had stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming a police officer. Damian was found dead on March 6 at Poppy Lodge, the children’s home where he lived on Hayling Island, Hampshire.
He had been sent to Poppy Lodge in 2015, when he was 13, by Oxford County Council after being given the SHPO. It was not revealed to the hearing why he was subject to the order. Damian said in his note it was a ‘rational’ decision [to kill himself], adding he loved his family, including his grandmother in Poland, who ‘he spoke to every day’.
He said he could not ‘develop social skills’ as he grew into adulthood or find a girlfriend.
Lauren Fenton, a team leader at Poppy Lodge, said Damian was a "lovely and helpful boy". She added: "He was very funny, he had goals. He wanted to work in the police. He was saving up for a car and would always ask the carers to help him find cars he could buy."
"Damian was a big brother figure to the rest of the boys at the lodge as he had been there the longest."
Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Lincoln Brookes said: ‘There is unchallenged and clear evidence that Damian Szarach took his own life. He said he could no longer live with the restrictions of the Sexual Harm Prevention Order set on him and [it] would prevent him from becoming a police officer.
"He was a 17-year-old who seemed to be progressing well. He was doing well in his college studies and had showed no signs of suicidal thoughts or mental health issues. He explained in the note that he lied to his friend to order him the caffeine supplement online, telling him it was, in fact, a protein supplement."
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