Teenager who died at home was worried about lockdown, inquest concludes

PUBLISHED: 16:06 21 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:55 21 August 2020

Emily Owen, who an inquest concluded took her own life. Picture: Annabel Owen

Emily Owen, who an inquest concluded took her own life. Picture: Annabel Owen

Annabel Owen

The father of a 19-year-old said she was worried about the coronavirus pandemic after an inquest found she took her own life.

Emily Owen, 19, from Shouldham, died on March 22 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn.

At an inquest into her death on August 21 at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, it was heard that Miss Owen experienced anxiety and distress due to the pandemic, and worried it would take away her freedom.

In a statement read aloud in court her father Timothy Owen said she had previously had mental health difficulties but had been diagnosed with autism in 2018.

After that, he said things had improved, and she had achieved diplomas, learnt to drive and worked in a pub, where she was the “life and soul”.

The family was in the process of moving to Cornwall, Miss Owen’s favourite place.

“She was really excited and looking for a fresh start.” Mr Owen said, “Life was really good and the future was looking better for everyone.”

Referring to the coronavirus lockdown, he said: “She was concerned she was going to lose her freedom and independence, not being able to go to work and the gym or drive and get out.”

Prior to her death, the family had enjoyed “their best day ever as a family” during a trip to Coventry to visit grandparents.

Mr Owen said the family decided to self-isolate as one of his daughters had developed a cough.

On the morning of March 18, Miss Owen said she wanted to go for a drive but was told she could not due to self isolation. Her mother and sister later found her unresponsive at home.

Miss Owen was taken to the QEH and died four days later.

Mr Owen told the court: “The straw that broke the camel’s back was the restrictions, just being unable to cope with the restrictions, which is happening to a range of people in the UK at the moment.”

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic struck and this caused Emily a lot of worry and distress. She was worried she was not be able to go out having had a taste of freedom and independence.”

She recorded a verdict of suicide and offered her sympathies to Miss Owen’s family.

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple and Android.

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