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'Funny, creative and bright' woman's tragic end after 10-year battle with complex eating disorder

PUBLISHED: 11:45 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:18 26 January 2019

Carrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Carrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A "funny, creative and bright" woman took her own life after a 10-year battle with a complex eating disorder, an inquest has heard.

Rachel Spooner was found unresponsive in her flat in Kemps Place – a supported living complex in Norwich - on April 28 last year.

The 29-year-old was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she died the following morning.

At an inquest into her death on Wednesday, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard how Miss Spooner had suffered from anorexia, depression and had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

The hearing heard how Miss Spooner had previously made several attempts to end her life including one just days before her death and suffered from a “chronic high risk” of suicidal thoughts.

Giving evidence, Miss Spooner’s mother Christine Spooner said her daughter’s illness had been “extremely complex” and when it first developed there had been little support for adults with eating disorders in Norfolk.

She said: “Rachel’s eating disorder was severe and long standing, it developed just before she went to university.

“Rachel was funny, creative and bright. All her family are devastated by her death.”

The hearing heard from several clinicians who had been involved in Miss Spooner’s treatment both as an inpatient and in the community.

Jaco Serfontein, consultant psychiatrist for Norfolk Community Eating Disorder Service oversaw Miss Spooner’s care in the community in the last weeks of her life and had previously overseen her care in an inpatient ward.

He said: “Rachel had a chronic high risk of suicide, she always expressed suicidal thoughts and had made a series of attempts.”

The hearing heard how in April 2018, Miss Spooner was having frequent blood tests to monitor her potassium levels, and checks on her by staff at Kemps Place had been increased.

Concerned by her deteriorating condition her community team, led by Dr Serfontein, were with Miss Spooner’s agreement arranging for her to be admitted to an inpatient unit, something that had also been discussed with her parents.

“On April 27, I reviewed Rachel... in terms of suicidal thoughts she said she was managing,

“She said she kept her suicide note for future use but did not have any plans,” he said.

Concluding the inquest, Johanna Thompson, assistant coroner for Norfolk gave a conclusion of suicide.

The Samaritans can be reached on 116 123. BEAT can be reached on 0808 801 0677.

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