‘Man, 20, plagued by ME took own life’

May 7, 2008

From the East Anglian Daily Times, 7 May 2008 (reporter: Elliott Furniss)

A YOUNG man from Colchester who had been plagued by ME for 10 years took his own life, an inquest has heard.

The father of 20-year-old Matthew Hoddy told Chelmsford Coroner's Court yesterday that his son “believed in reincarnation” and wanted to end his life and begin a new one.

The inquest heard that Matthew had suffered from ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) since the age of 10 and had already made an attempt on his life in August 2005, almost a year to the day before he was found dead in his bead.

ME is a chronic disabling illness with a range of symptoms including severe fatigue, joint and muscular pain and mental confusion.

Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray heard that Matthew had not worked since leaving college as a teenager and was living at home in Sherbourne Road with his father Robert.

His father said: “We believe in reincarnation and we take a more modern view that you can chose what you're going to become next.

“He wanted to end his life and start a new one – he wasn't seeking oblivion, he was seeking a new life.”

The inquest heard that he had gone to his son's bedroom on Friday August 3 last year to find his son lifeless in bed with a plastic bag over his face.

The police were called and were satisfied that, although there was no suicide note, there were no suspicious circumstances.

A post mortem examination carried on Matthew's body out revealed no alcohol or drugs in his blood and his cause of death was recorded as asphyxiation.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “He took a deliberate action, knowing that that would result in his own death. So, I'm going to record a verdict that Matthew Hoddy killed himself and let me again offer the family the court's sympathies.”

Dr Charles Shepherd, medical advisor for the ME Association, said suicide among young ME sufferers was rare but about one case was reported every few months.

He said: “It's something that comes to our attention every so often – I would think probably a suicide every few months with this illness is reported, but how many more we don't hear about, I don't know.

“This is something that takes over a fair proportion of their lives at a crucial time and is extremely difficult to cope with.”

He said that there were often problems for sufferers in getting the necessary medical and psychological support while the illness's debilitating nature could also have a financial impact in later life.

Dr Shepherd added: “The good thing with this illness is that children do quite well and many of them do get back to complete, full health.

“Whereas, with adults the prognosis is much worse – they can be house-bound, bed-bound or wheelchair-bound.”

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