‘I just genuinely believe the torment was just too much’ - mother tells inquest of son’s troubled life

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley

Kim Briscoe kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
6:30 AM

A mother wept as she told an inquest of the torment suffered by her son as he battled poor mental health from the age of six.

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Alexander Gurman was just 24 when he was found dead at his Norwich home on January 4, and Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard yesterday how he had turned to alcohol and drugs as he tried to cope with his paranoid schizophrenia.

His mother Hilary Gurman said her son only told her about a year ago that he had heard voices since the age of just six. She said her son used to say that if he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, such as cancer, then people would have wanted him to have pain relief, but just because the pain he felt was in his head, it did not make it any less real or any less painful.

She said: “At essence he was a kind, caring, giving man, but I just genuinely believe that the torment was just too much.”

Mr Gurman had been admitted to Hellesdon Hospital several times, and while he accepted mental health support and medication, he resisted any help for his drug and alcohol abuse, which exacerbated his illness, as did the death of his brother Christopher in a car accident.

He attempted suicide in August, 2013, and when he became unhappy after moving to Maidstone Road towards the end of November, he left an apparent suicide note on his door on December 14. While police were called and Mr Gurman reassured them he was fine, Mrs Gurman questioned why the officers did not contact the mental health service.

Mr Gurman then spent Christmas and New Year with his family, but when his mother took him back to Norwich on January 3, he became quiet and sombre, told her he had to go and that he loved her, although that was not an unsual occurrence.

Fellow former Hobart High School pupil Jake Howlett found Mr Gurman dead at home on January 4, with drugs paraphanalia on the table in front of him.

After a post mortem examination and toxicology report, the cause of death was given as a combination of broncopneumonia and opiate toxicity.

Coroner Jacqueline Lake said despite the suicide note he had written in December, he had given no cause for concern in the few days prior to his death, which was in part due to natural causes because of the broncopneumonia. She said she could not be satisfied that he intended to take his own life, nor could she be clear it was a accident.

She said: “In the circumstances my conclusion is that Mr Gurman died as a result of dependence on drugs against a background of physical and mental ill health.”

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