Heartbroken relatives have paid tribute to an ‘intelligent, caring and beautiful’ young woman who died after taking illegal slimming pills.
Annie Gresham, 25, swallowed the tablets, which are made using an industrial chemical and sold on the black market as a weight-reduction product but are not licenced for human consumption.
She was found in her pyjamas by a passing ambulance crew on a bridge overlooking the A38 on November 19, 2017, an inquest at Derby Coroner’s Court heard.
Despite medics keeping Ms Gresham from running back onto the bridge and battling to save her before she was rushed to Royal Derby Hospital, she sadly died hours later.
The inquest was told Ms Gresham, from Mickleover, had a history of mental illness and had previously been diagnosed with anorexia and emotionally unstable personality disoreder (EUPD).
She had been admitted to specialist eating disorder clinics and had been discharged shortly before her death.
In a statement released after the hearing, her family said: ‘Annie Gresham (nee Cooper) was a much-loved daughter, sister, auntie and friend.
‘She was intelligent, caring, beautiful, and had an amazing sense of humour. We miss her every day.
‘We would like to express our sincere thanks to the police, ambulance service and staff at the Royal Derby Accident and Emergency department. We had frequent contact with all three organisations, and their professionalism, care and compassion have been amazing throughout. We cannot thank them enough.
‘Annie received compassionate care from many individuals in the mental health sector over the years and for this we are truly grateful.
‘What we would like to happen is for the individuals who worked with Annie to examine their decisions and actions, and question whether with hindsight, they would do things differently. Then to remember this next time, for the next patient and their family.
‘In addition, we hope that professionals and people in a position of power will challenge the level of care for mental health in this country. In our opinion the system failed Annie and will continue to fail others unless there is a drastic change.’
Recording a narrative conclusion, Peter Nieto, the area coroner for Derby and Derbyshire, said Ms Gresham’s care was not ‘categorically insufficient’ and that the café worker had offered ‘no indication’ that she had planned to take her own life.
He said: ‘It was clear that she had consciously taken the tablets on November 19. That can’t have occurred accidentally.
‘But she must have known that there was a high likelihood that she would have been seen [on the bridge over the A38] and therefore she would likely have then been taken to hospital, where she would have received some treatment.
‘Had she taken herself somewhere private, then I think the case would be different.”
‘It is implausible that she would have accidentally taken that number of the tablets and after taking the tablets she went to a low bridge, and she would have anticipated being found.’
In statements read out by the coroner, the ambulance crew said Ms Gresham told them to ‘let me do it, let me go, I’m dying anyway’, but did not explain what she meant.
The crew took her to Royal Derby Hospital where she revealed she had had self-harmed from the age of 12 and had ‘recently recovered from anorexia’.
She later told staff she had taken an overdose of a drug which causes weight loss by burning fat and carbohydrates.
At the hospital she was monitored by medics, but her condition deteriorated, and she died the same night.
Mr Nieto read in evidence that Ms Gresham had a history of mental illness, with self-harm attempts.
But he added that they were ‘impulsive’ and that ‘she would have likely taken the tablets without fully understanding the consequences’.
The inquest also heard a ‘farewell note’ was found after her death, but Mr Nieto said: ‘The note was not left out in clear view, it was written in a diary or journal which was closed.
‘In terms of the content, although it could be interpreted as a farewell note, it does not contain any mention of suicidal intent.’
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Illegal slimming pills containing dinitrophenol have been linked to several deaths in recent years as their popularity increases in people trying to lose weight and bodybuilders.
It is an industrial chemical, and it is a crime to sell it for human consumption.
There is no known antidote to treat people after they’ve taken it. A receipt for these pills was found after her death.
Ms Gresham’s medical cause of death was recorded as dinitrophenol fatal toxicity with a background of anorexia and EUPD.
Mr Nieto concluded the hearing by telling her family: ‘I hope the inquest has been of some help in some way and I give my condolences to you for Annie’s death at such a young age.’
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