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Empty pill packet found beside woman suffering mental illness

Inquest told how 40-year-old had used lithium to cope, but began to struggle when her medication was changed

21 April, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Alisa Knight was found on her bed in her Holloway flat in November – by her bed was an empty packet of benzodiazepines, which are used to treat depression

A WOMAN who had spent time in a unit for people suffering mental health crises was found unconscious with an empty pill packet by her bedside just days later.

Alisa Knight, 40, was found on her bed in her Holloway flat by on-off partner Bernard Coyle, also of Holloway, in November. She died later in hospital.

Ms Knight, who studied drama at university, had struggled since she was a teenager with bipolar affective disorder. She had used lithium to cope with her illness but began to struggle when her medication was changed.

Mr Coyle told St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Wednesday: “She was fine when she was on lithium but when they changed the medication it was not working at all.

“She told the psychiatrist but they kept saying ‘give it another week’. It was like they would not believe what she was saying.

“Over the last few months she was getting much, much worse.”

Ms Knight had mentioned suicidal thoughts but did not express an intention to take her own life. She had type 2 diabetes and was becoming frustrated with the “situation regarding her benefits”, the court heard.

She admitted herself to the The Rivers Crisis house at St Pancras Hospital for mental health emergencies before being discharged to the Jules Thorn Day Hospital, also at St Pancras.

Mr Coyle last saw Ms Knight alive on November 3 last year. When she did not respond to phone calls Mr Coyle became concerned and went to her flat where he found her unconscious on November 7.

By her bed was an empty packet of benzodiazepines, which are used to treat depression.

“She was getting more and more depressed,” Mr Coyle said. “I should have been able to read the signs.”

Ms Knight suffered brain damage and a decision was made to take her off life support on November 22.

Coroner Edwin Buckett’s determination was that Ms Knight’s death was drug-related.

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