I actually agonised for some weeks over whether I should post this here; didn’t want to be accused of “bringing a downer” on everything.
But then I thought it may give advance warning to someone and could help save them or their friend. The incident actually shocked me at first – I know people get mood swings but in 12 years have never seen it drive people to suicide at such an early stage – but I guess the stress of moving out from home to start Uni, the workloads and the social life could bring things on top…
Also looking at the second article it seems she had got herself into some “relationship problems”
But what goes up must come down – so please look after yourselves.
Self-confessed drug user found hanged
By Kate Cooney, Reading Chronicle
AN 18-year-old student who hanged herself from a door hinge just six weeks into her first year at Reading University had boasted to friends about her drug use.
An inquest heard Londoner Zoe Sherriff told fellow undergraduates at St Patrick’s Hall of Residence she had experienced rubbing cocaine into her gums and smoking cannabis.
Three days before her death she went to the university health centre with a self-inflicted cut on her arm.
But nurse Sally Atkins, who treated her, said it was superficial and she seemed rational and calm.
Head porter Ivor Lewis found Zoe’s body in her first floor room at around 10am on Tuesday, November 12, after her mother had been unable to contact her.
Friend Benjamin Whittle was worried about her when he went to her room at around 11pm on the Monday that he removed a quantity of tablets from her desk.
He said: “She was normally very happy. But this night she seemed upset and had been crying.”
And Cornelius Corkery said: “She came over to me and a friend a few weeks before she died and said she had been taking cocaine. She showed us where she had rubbed it into her gums.
“The night before she died she was lethargic and seemed as if she wanted to be alone.”
Zoe’s mother Dorothy told Tuesday’s inquest: “My last words to my daughter were, ‘Be careful darling it’s a dangerous world’.”
Recording an open verdict Reading coroner Dr Joe Pim said: “Although I’m sure Zoe did tie the dressing gown cord round her neck, what she was planning I’m not quite sure.
“I’ve seen so many youngsters start on a road to quite serious mental illness after just a few doses of these drugs.”
– from other Reading paper the Reading evening post –
Student found hanged
Tragedy – Zoe Sherriff who was found hanging by her dressing gown cord
A FRESHER from The University of Reading who was found hanging by her dressing gown cord told her mother she was “expecting some serious karma” a few weeks earlier, an inquest heard.
Zoe Sherriff was just six weeks into her course when she was discovered hanging in her room in
St Patrick’s Hall on November 12 last year.
At the inquest in Reading on Tuesday, coroner Dr Joe Pim heard how the 18-year-old had visited the university’s health centre on Saturday, November 9, with a self-inflicted one-inch cut on her left arm.
The 18-year-old from Camden, North London, told nurse Sally Atkins that she did it to frighten a friend, Elizabeth Evangelou, who she accused of sleeping with her boyfriend.
Miss Sheriff refused offers to see the doctor or counsellor at the time.
Her mother Dorothy Sherriff said Zoe had cut herself before, scratching the word “bitch” into her arm.
“She was more than looking forward to coming to Reading because she thought she had failed her A-levels. It was going well until the last time she was at home,” said Mrs Sherriff.
“There was a dramatic change – she was stroppy and not communicating. She said she had been a bitch and was expecting some serious karma. I think she meant she was expecting trouble.”
In a phone call to Mrs Sherriff on November 8, Zoe said she had been in a bar where someone had put two fingers to her head and made a shooting noise, calling her a slag or a slapper.
“The last thing I said to her was, ‘Be careful darling, it’s a dangerous world’,” Mrs Sherriff said.
Concerned for her daughter’s safety, she asked the hall porter to check on her on Tuesday morning.
That was when head porter Ivor Lewis discovered her body hanging by her dressing gown cord.
Miss Sherriff had spent the weekend with Miss Evangelou and they had gone to The Matrix
nightclub on November 9, where she told her friend she had taken an ecstasy tablet.
Student Lorna Passey saw Miss Sherriff at 3am on the Saturday “quite drunk and arguing with her friend”.
She said she was laughing about the cut on her arm and claimed her friend did it but the next morning said she had done it herself to prove her love for a boy in London.
Miss Evangelou left in a taxi the next morning.
Another student, Benjamin Whittle, told the inquest: “She said she heard voices in her head and thought I could hear her thoughts. She didn’t say what these thoughts were about.”
Mr Whittle checked on Zoe the night before her death and said she seemed to be “chirpy, happy and upbeat”.
A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Leo Horton found Zoe’s heart was normal and there was no evidence of any alcohol in her blood and urine samples.
There were “concentrations of ibuprofen and anti-histamine consistent with a therapeutic dose” but no other drugs were present.
He concluded that the cause of death was hanging and the features were consistent with self-
Detective Sergeant Tom Judge from Thames Valley Police said he was satisfied that nobody else was involved.
Reading coroner Dr Joe Pim recorded an open verdict. He said: “Zoe had been taking drugs at times although there was no drug level in Zoe at the time when she died.
“Mental effects last quite a good time after the drugs have been taken. The effects can be serious, long lasting and an absolute tragedy.
“I’m sure Zoe was responsible for tying the dressing gown cord but I’m not convinced she intended to kill herself.”
i am always saddened when the media choose to use a tragic story like this as propaganda against drugs.
once again we see drugs mentioned in a negative way and attached to a suicide.
What we don’t see are that this girl was a person, and as such was a complex individual, we don’t know why she started using drugs, if their is any history of abuse, if their is any history of mental health, we know she sought help by self harming and did not get it:(
What this does illustrate is the need for everyone to be better educated, if the nurse had a broader background on drug use she might have spotted something.
many many people use drugs recreationally every day with no ill effects, many use drugs to try and cope with issues as varied as boredom to parental sexual abuse, teenagers experience traumatic emotional and chemical fluctuations and for some drugs (and the social belonging this can produce) prove invaluable life experiences.
getting a bit vague here.
I just wanted to say this is a sad story as any death is and that the fact she was using cocaine may have been more symptomatic of her depression than the cause.
yes, it is a sad story. The sadder thing is that often the reporters aren’t much older than the victims and some even feel they are doing “society a favour” by showing the “evils of drugs”.
I agree with what you are saying – but there are many complex and interlinked issues here.
1. No journo on a normal paper is going to say “drugs are good” (they may do on a club rag such as the defunct “ministry” mag or a lad/ladette mag like FHM or Cosmo). If they did, they would risk being disciplined by their bosses (as there could be a backlash that may lead to lost sales for the paper) or the paper could even be held up before the PCC for encouraging criminal activity. This will not change until recreational drugs are legalised (if they ever are).
2. One reason I posted the story is it was similar to my own experiences when I started Uni. I didn’t post the girls picture here, but she is from an ethnic minority group (like myself). “Reading between the lines” of her Mums statement to the Press, I got the impression Ms Sherriff had been put under some considerable pressure to do well at school and get into Uni (and if you are black or Asian in Britain this is very common!) – and this could have been the cause of family arguments that were alluded to in the press reports.
This is pretty much what happened to me 10 years ago when I was supposed to go to Uni. I found it stressful, got heavily into the partying scene in London, and the effect on my physical and mental health ended up in part with me leaving before the end of my course; although thankfully with my life and sanity intact! But even today my mum complains about me leaving early, and I now have a pathological hatred of institutionalised education and exams – one bit of me thinks I should get an MSCE or two so I can improve my job prospects, another part of me thinks “why the fuck should I do this, I know exactly how to use a computer!” I still have nightmares about exams and I am in my 30s now. I think they fucked me up far worse than drugs ever did!
I agree the Uni nurses/counsellors aren’t much cop; and in some cases are very judgemental. (I’ve seen a few in my time!) Worse still, I feel that they probably have seen teen suicides many times before and have got hardened to this event “well, at least a few of them are going to top themselves before the term is out”. Uni these days seems to me justlike a “youth farm” to turn out “good corporate workers”.
3. The “comedown” from MDMA and to a lesser extent the amphetamines is a real phenomenon which people must be educated about and take appropriate action. And you are quite right more education is required (I think this site is one of the best drug advice sites on the net BTW!)
I agree that drugs used correctly and in appropriate dosages can be positive – for instance to enhance creativity or to provide extra energy for manual exertion; (but in the interests of fair play I do not approve of using them to cheat in a competitive sport where not everyone is taking them!)
There is an increasing problem on the party scene (which was around in 1992 or so and has got worse) with excessive poly-drug use, and people taking stuff “just because it is kewl”. Taking more only exacerbates the physical and mental crash later on; and I saw both on the net and IRL far too many instances of people overdoing it, and then using their friends, families and partners as “punch bags” during the week when the comedown set in, or even commiting various crimes to “get back at society”. IMO completely unacceptable behaviour; it is very destructive and gives credence to the views of anti-drugs prohibitionists.
I am tolerant, but believe in responsible use of drugs; they do not give people the right to abdicate from their normal social responsibilities such as being good to their friends and family, and putting something back into society as well as taking from it.
4. The attitude of the Chronicle stinks. It is as if they are “gloating” over the girls death – although they seem to enjoy posting lurid stories about “junkies” in all Reading local papers.
Anyway apologies for this long and dark post – but I felt that this sort of press reporting must be investigated, and used more as an example for better education
thats a very sad story, my heart goes out to the family of that girl.
but its not fair to blame it on drugs. 2 years ago i was so depressed and down and just wanted to die……..i met new friends began partying and takin esctacy and it helped me if anything!.
takin ecstasy and cocaine doesnt depress me it makes me happier and even on the come down and the next week i feel fine.
from that article too it says the girl only smoked weed and rubbed coke in her gums…..im sorry but so little of the drug could hadly effect her.
I agree with what general lighting has to say. I have just dropped out of uni. I have acquired debts during that year of £6000. The felt pressured to go to uni, I thought I could get away from my excessive drug use. But while I was at uni debts piled up bills came in, I had trouble police searching my room and then a beravement. I then felt suicidal but i managed to think about it rationally- I think suicide it selfish and destructs the lifes of others who care for you.
The instutionalisation of universitys and how money is a key factor in education is no doubt going to cause more suicides like this. My one year at uni has fucked up my life for a good few years to come. I gained a good group of friends but the debt made me unhappy. Surely life is just about being happy and keeping others happy?
i don’t agree with how the media handled that. it could have been anything, having problems and just commit suicide. it might have not been because she was using. when i roll xtc, it makes me feel good, not so depressed as it might have done to her. send my sympathies.
I feel really sorry for that girl and her family. Ive just started uni in liverpool and i can totally understand the pressures and stress that come with it. ive been here since september and one thing its taught me is that life is a rollercoaster, last week i was on top of the world, then shit happens doesnt it and brings u right down again!
In regard to the drugs causing this? What a load of rubbish! I take ecstacy 2 or 3 times a month and it doesnt do me any harm. When i started taking it i decided to do some research about it. what i found was that the information we are given about drugs is almost always manipulated, for if the complete truth were given this would possibly encourage more people to take recreational drugs (A goverment that did this would find it difficult to convince voters to re-elect them)
Check out this website to see what i mean
yes is an absolute shame that a girl as young as this had to take her life, but I would not say for 1 second that it was because of her drug use. I think it is a crying shame that the people of today are so led by the media. I beleive that if you kill urself (which is a very selfish thing to do) you would have to be mentally unstable any way I dont beleive that normal person could take there own life, I also think that the fact she took drugs is totally irelevent!!
i wouldnt go so far as to say “it was nothing to do with drugs” because it possibly could have been.
Last year i was involved in writing a report on the effects of drugs on an unstable mind-set. From the report it was to my understanding that IF you were in the wrong mind set you COULD possibly do something you would not do otherwise. I know from personal experiances that taking drugs when being clinically depressed is a bad idea. (for some people) I personally could not deal with tripping in a bad mood, i soon learned that if im pissed off/upset i should stay the hell away from drugs.
Drugs alone are not dangerous, when taken in a controlled and safe environment. It is when you loose the control that drugs become dangerous. IMO if you know your down or feeling “off” you should be careful, and watch out for what you are acually doing.
Drugs are not the danger, its the people using them.
Love and Respect Star x x x x
yes I understand wot ur saying but shorley if ur ALREADY clinacly depressed wot differnece does it make if u take drugs I can see that it may make ur depression even worse but it certainly DOES NOT coarse clinical depression.
nooooooo i didnt mean that it causes it. just stating that its a bad idea to take drugs IF you are aleady depressed
oh yeah of coarse, and please dont anyone think that im promoting drug taking here in the long run it isn’t good for you !!. As you said before it isen’t drugs that is the problem its the people who take them and I totally agree.;)
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