Eastern Daily Press, April 13 (inquest)

April 13, 2007

A woman killed herself after becoming increasingly frustrated at the failure of medical tests to confirm her belief that she had a serious illness, an inquest has heard.

Joanna Wright, 33, was found hanging at her family's farm in Henstead, near Lowestoft, after suffering six months of turmoil.

She underwent a series of tests as doctors tried to get to the bottom of what was causing her many symptoms and had convinced herself that she had contracted the HIV virus.

Three tests over an 11-year period had proved this not to be the case and after investigations for other conditions came back negative, doctors considered she may have been suffering from the debilitating condition ME.

Miss Wright, who worked at a vets' surgery, was referred to a specialist, but took her own life on November 13 last year before she could attend her first appointment.

Yesterday, her grieving father John Wright, of Toad Row, Henstead, called for more research to be carried out into ME, which is estimated to affect up to 240,000 people in the UK.

Mr Wright said: "It bears out the seriousness of ME and it does emphasise how important it is that more research is carried out. It can strike the fittest of people. It just added to Joanna's frustration that she couldn't do what she used to do."

ME affects many parts of the body and the symptoms include severe fatigue,problems with memory and muscle pain.

Wednesday's inquest at Lowestoft County Court was told that Miss Wright first showed signs of ill health after she stopped taking the contraceptive pill in May of last year. Her abdomen became bloated and she started to show weight loss, as well as reporting other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, panic attacks, night sweats and tiredness.

Miss Wright, who lived in Toad Row, paid several visits to her GP's surgery at Field Lane, Kessingland, and attended the A&E department at the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, on a number of occasions.

She was referred to specialists and the inquest heard that over a six-month period she had several tests for a range of ailments, which came back negative.

Giving evidence, Dr David Johnston, of the Field Lane surgery, said: "Her symptoms had been nearly six months in duration. This led me to think it could be post-viral fatigue syndrome or ME. We felt nothing more could have been done to prevent this tragic incident."

In a statement, Miss Wright's partner of 9½ years, Ywain Prior said: "In the last two weeks of her life she became very quiet. She sorted out her personal filing and she said to me that if anything happened to her… I should find myself another princess. I never thought she was depressed and never thought she would commit suicide. I was totally shocked."

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean explained his ruling that Miss Wright had taken her own life was based on the content of a note found after her death at Baldry's Farm. He stressed that he believed no one was to blame for the tragedy and said doctors had been faced with a "very difficult set of circumstances".

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