RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Jennifer Betty YOUNG
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
(a) The identity of the deceased is Jennifer Betty YOUNG ("Ms Young") who died at a time unable to be specifically determined, but between approximately 9.00 pm on Sunday 8 August 2010 and 12.00 pm on Monday 9 August 2010.
(b) Ms Young was born in Australia on 3 April 1962 and was aged 48 years.
(c) Ms Young was a divorced woman who at the time of her death was unemployed.
(d) Ms Young died as a result of acute pancreatitis and combined drug (quetiapine and benzodiazepam) intoxication.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
Ms Young was first prescribed benzodiazepam medication in or about 1980 following the death of her father. From this time the use of prescription and over the counter medication by Ms Young gradually increased until it affected her day to day functioning and her mental and emotional health. When Ms Young’s daughter, Sophie, was born in 1989 it is reported that the attending obstetrician was concerned during her pregnancy because of her drug use and her family were aware by this stage that she was "doctor shopping" in order to obtain excessive amounts of medication. In the early 1990’s Ms Young was a voluntary in-patient at the Rokeby psychiatric clinic for a period of approximately six months in an endeavour to treat her addiction to prescribed medication, in particular benzodiazepam. This was unsuccessful and over the years that followed there were many occasions in which family members would find Ms Young unconscious due to overdose of medication. Sophie Young was aware of her mother’s addiction to prescription medication and states that this appeared to worsen after Ms Young’s mother passed away in May 2008. In March 2010 Sophie Young and her partner found their own accommodation and Ms Young moved to 57 Banyalla Street, Rokeby. Sophie Young states that in the 12 months prior to finding separate accommodation she was living with her mother and had her admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital for psychiatric evaluation on five separate occasions. On all of these occasions Ms Young had rendered herself unconscious from drug intoxication using seroquel, valium, mersyndol, and various anti-depressants. Sophie Young also advises that for approximately one year prior to Ms Young’s death she had been in a relationship with a male, Victor Krysnawski, who had been killed in an unfortunate accident some weeks prior to Ms Young’s death. Sophie Young believes that this would have impacted upon her mother’s psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Simon Sigley, a neighbour, visited Ms Young at her home at approximately 7.00 pm on 8 August 2010. During the period that he was there he observed Ms Young was slurring her words, she appeared unsteady on her feet, and she had difficulty holding a cup of coffee as she was shaking. Mr Sigley left at approximately 9.00 pm but returned the next morning at some time between 9.00 and 10.00 am as he was concerned for Ms Young’s wellbeing due to her condition the previous evening. He knocked on the door but was unable to raise Ms Young. At approximately 12.00 midday Mr Andrew Hammond attended at 57 Banyalla Street, Rokeby which he owned but allowed Ms Young to reside there as she was a friend of his. He attended the house to feed his pet bird and to collect some property. He let himself in through the front door and observed Ms Young laying on her back in the kitchen, she had no pulse and he observed blood around her nose and mouth. He commenced CPR whilst his partner phoned an ambulance. Attending paramedics at 12.24 pm determined that further resuscitation endeavours were not appropriate as Ms Young was deceased.
A detailed report was provided by Ms Young’s treating general practitioner Dr Jones which confirms a long term dependency upon various medications including diazepam, serepax and benzodiazepams. Endeavours were made from January 2007 through until the date of her death to control Ms Young’s access to medications, apparently without success. Arrangements were made at times for daily dosage and restriction of prescriptions, however incidents continued to occur when Ms Young would overdose upon either her own medications or those she had obtained from others.
It is apparent that Ms Young developed an addiction to a range of prescribed medication from early adulthood. Despite intensive endeavours to break this addiction by hospital admissions and control measures by her treating general practitioner and usual dispensing pharmacist, Ms Young continued to obtain and consume medication at a dangerous level. This practice together with her acute pancreatitis eventually caused her death.
This is a sad case of a person’s life being controlled by the need for mood altering medication. It once again highlights the dangers of addiction to medication such as benzodiazapam.
Before I concluding I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Ms Young.
This matter is now concluded.
DATED : The 31 day of January 2011 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania.
Stephen Raymond Carey