Coroner’s ‘pill popping’ warning to GPs after tragic death of Hemel Hempstead dad

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The chief coroner for Herts will warn GP surgeries of the dangers of over-prescribing anti-depressants after the death of a man who had recently discovered his girlfriend was pregnant.

Luke Boyer had four month’s worth of medication which he was taking for depression and to help him sleep at the time of his death, an inquest into his death heard.

The 27-year-old had only recently found out that his girlfriend – who has asked us not to use her name on this website – was pregnant with his child, Herts Coroners Court was told.

They had lived together with his girlfriend’s father in Bennetts End, since April after becoming a couple the month before.

The pair had known each other for seven years.

A note by Luke addressed to his unborn son or daughter was found in a drawer by his girlfriend little more than two hours after his death.

Coroner Edward Thomas reported that Luke’s note said he found out a couple of days earlier that his girlfriend was expecting his child, and he was over the moon about the news.

He said he had just lived ‘the happiest four months of his life’.

His girlfriend had become concerned for Luke at around midnight on August 5, when he complained that he felt as if his liver was blowing up.

His girlfriend was not able to attend the inquest because of a scheduled scan, but a note she had written was read out to the court.

It said that Luke had just quit alcohol, smoking and speed – but took five or six of his prescribed tablets that night to help him cope with the pain. He would usually just take two.

When his girlfriend and her father returned home from a day out at 6pm the next day, she found Luke upstairs listening to songs that reminded him of his mum.

His mother, father and nan had all passed away, the inquest heard.

Herts Coroners Court was also told that Luke’s son – by another partner – was chronically ill, and every time his condition worsened, Luke would get sadder.

He was off sick with severe depression from his job as a brick-maker at the time of his death.

His girlfriend’s note described how she saw him popping handfuls of pills out of the bottle and putting them into his mouth on that day.

She tried to stop him, but Luke prevented her. She later found six empty pill bottles in the bedroom.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Luke, but he was pronounced dead just before midnight.

Luke’s GP Lend Quist-Therson, from Everest House Surgery in Adeyfield, first prescribed the pills in 2005, and increased the dosage got larger in the following years.

She said her practice will now only write monthly prescriptions for anti-depressants and will only issue further prescriptions after patients have seen their GP.

Only doctors will be allowed to prescribe the drug and if a patient loses a prescription, it will be recorded and flagged up with the patient if it happens again.

Mr Thomas said that he would write to other GP surgeries in Herts to advise that they implement the same practices.

He said: “It was a very emotional time for Luke. He found out he was going to be a father, but it must have brought back feelings about his loss and how sad he felt about that.

“The doctor was a bit worried that he might be a bit bipolar.”

Mr Thomas said if Luke had really wanted to take his life, he would have written a note about his intentions – not one to say how happy he was.

He said: “I think he just pill-popped. He was getting so manic and just carried on taking his pills.”

Verdict: accidental death.