Suicide after buying herbal remedies online | Tonbridge Courier | 14 September 2012

September 16, 2012


From the Tonbridge Courier, 14 September 2012.

A TONBRIDGE man who bought herbal remedies online in an attempt to cure a debilitating illness killed himself after failing to gain entry to a Swiss suicide clinic.

Post-viral fatigue syndrome sufferer Oliver Coles, 30, hanged himself at his family home in Postern Lane on March 13.

The engineering consultant had become depressed after battling the condition – also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME – for four years.

His mother Sarah Coles found his body hanging in a shower cubicle, after he failed to come downstairs for lunch that day.

Mrs Coles cut him down and lodger Alan Morrison-Topping tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday, an inquest at Tunbridge Wells Coroners' Court was told Mr Coles suffered constant pain, became extremely tired after short walks and had developed a skin condition on his face which he constantly examined.

He had attempted to take an overdose in December 2011 as “a cry for help”.

The court heard Mr Coles spent much of his time researching ME treatments on the internet and writing a blog about his investigations. He had also researched suicide methods and had recently made a will.

He had ordered various herbal remedies from American websites and believed taking these had worsened his condition.

An application for admission to Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas had been made but Mr Coles had given up, believing he could not obtain the required medical records from his doctor.

Mr Coles, who was taking anti-depressants, was found to have sent e-mails to fellow ME sufferers in the run-up to his death in which he stated “a human can't take this” and that his situation was “intolerable”.

West Kent coroner Roger Hatch recorded a verdict of suicide.

2 thoughts on “Suicide after buying herbal remedies online | Tonbridge Courier | 14 September 2012”

  1. I’m posting this message from Oliver’s sister, Becky, with her permission:

    Dear ME Association and Mr Britton,

    I am writing to you regarding your online news post by Tony Britton (Sept 16th): Suicide after buying herbal remedies online | Tonbridge Courier | 14 September 2012.

    I am Oliver Coles’ sister and I feel that I need to comment on the re-edited title of the article copied directly from the Courier, as it gives out the wrong message, especially to fellow ME/CFS suffers and importantly Oliver would not have wanted this.

    I firstly have to comment that a number of points in the article are incorrect (due to the proof-reading and note-taking skills of the Courier journalist) – and Oliver never failed entry into Dignitas, he never applied. Anyway, I understand how Mr Britton came up with the title for the news section, by using the phrase “…he had ordered various herbal remedies from American websites and believed taking these had worsened his condition”. As detailed in Oliver’s blog (http://olivercoles.blogspot) they were not random herbal remedies bought online – he was following a nutritional balancing programme developed by Dr Wilson. I am sure your association is aware of it. Oliver did not take his own life due to this programme, as your title implies. He did believe that the programme had worsened his condition (as programmes often do before better health), but he was not willing to follow the programme through. Ultimately he didn’t see a future without pain with no evidence that he would get better, and he could not live with that.

    Thank you for your time and investment in supporting people with ME

    Best wishes

    Becky Coles

  2. Becky, I am so sorry for your loss and of the loss of Oliver to the rest of his family and all who loved him.

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