Portslade woman killed herself after years of ill health, inquest told

Posted On 05 Mar 2019 at 10:19 pm

A woman who suffered from long-term health conditions committed suicide after her illness “blighted her life”, an inquest heard.

Amy Kesteven, 27 of Deacons Drive, Portslade, had lived with a number of physical and mental health problems since she was nine years old.

An inquest at Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court, at Woodvale, was told that Miss Kesteven had suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome – or ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) – for almost 20 years. She also had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and emotionally unstable personality disorder.

In the final weeks of her life she had also suffered from sickness and diarrhoea to the extent that a doctor book an ambulance to take her to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Miss Kesteven’s mother, Katherine Ford, who was also ill, went to hospital by ambulance with the same sickness bug but Miss Kesteven refused.

Instead she drank rum and brandy and took sleeping pills and drowned herself in her bath after leaving a suicide note.

Brighton and Hove coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said: “Amy reached the end of her tether.

“The immediate cause of death was drowning in bath water. She had the presence of alcohol on board.

“I can’t ignore the diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder which is very difficult to live with.

“Everything came together at this particular time which made her feel even worse than usual. She had hyponatraemic gastroenteritis.

“I think she was probably very rarely physically alone. I think this was an opportunity that came for her.

“I think she intended her act to end in death. And it did. There’s no other reasonable explanation for what she has done. She took her own life.”

Amy Kesteven

A suicide note was found in her bathroom with her drink bottles and empty pill packet.

Miss Kesteven died on Wednesday 14 November – eight days before her 28th birthday and just over a week after the second anniversary of the death of her father Nick Kesteven. He died after jumping off Beachy Head.

The coroner said that her death was sudden and unexpected although she had been ill for some time with chronic fatigue syndrome and had been trying to treat herself. She researched her condition and took vitamins and supplements to try to help herself.

The coroner also praised Miss Kesteven’s brother Sam, a 24-year-old university student who had tried to care for his sister and their mother.

The inquest was told that Miss Kesteven had been unable to register with a GP in Brighton and Hove since moving from Barns Green, between Horsham and Billingshurst.

It was Sam Kesteven who had found his sister in the bath and called 999. He told the emergency operator: “I just came home and found my sister dead in the bath.

“We’ve been having a family crisis at home. We haven’t really slept in three nights. My girlfriend and I went home to rest.

Amy Kesteven

“Amy assured us that she’d be ok. She looked into my eyes and said she’d be ok.

“We only had the ambulance here last night. They’ve had a terrible gut bug. The ambulance came yesterday and took my mum to hospital. Amy completely refused to go.

“I feel like I’m living a nightmare. I left here last night and she told me she’d be ok.”

Coroner’s officer Tony Beldam said: “He sounds to have been an absolute pillar for such a young man.”

The court heard him described as “a ray of hope” who was exhausted by the time that his sister killed herself.

The coroner offered her condolences to the family, in particular to Amy Kesteven’s grandmother Jenny Ford, who had travelled to the inquest from her home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

The coroner said that Amy “took her own life” and added: “It’s a very difficult situation for everyone.”

The day after he found his sister dead, Sam Kesteven posted on Facebook: “My beloved sister, Amy Kesteven, has died. After 18 years suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) she has taken her own life in order to bring an end to her torment and come to peace.

“It is a great injustice that euthanasia is not legal in this country and that people like Amy have no choice but to end their life alone.

“It is equally awful that their loved ones cannot be with them in their final moments. Amy was the strongest person I have ever known, she carried the burden of her condition with true grace and she never lost hope that she could overcome it and live a full life again, like she did as a young girl.

“The world has made a great loss. I love you Amy. I am so sorry. I won’t let your struggle be in vain.”

  1. I have lived with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis for 30 years, not the misname of
    chronic fatigue syndrome. ME is a devastating neuroimmune disease that has destroyed millions of people’s lives worldwide while the medical community and society turn away,
    and governments block us from proper funding and resources
    for care for the serious debilitating and life wrecking disease ME actually is.
    Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a worldwide epidemic of millions, but we are left
    as an invisible orphaned disease without help or hope to so many suffering.
    It is nothing but cruel to keep us from a proper and humane choice in
    having help to end our lives with the disease if necessary.
    Only those with ME know how hard the fight is everyday to keep going, and have
    strength to face suffering that never ends without proper care from the
    medical community,who willfully choose to neglect us and remain ignorant
    of our pain and suffering. How can we have such a “careless medical system”?!!

  2. Tina Rodwell Reply

    To have suffered so many years with ME takes its toll on you physically. When you have no GP, well words fail. To try and cope will the complexities of this devastating illness without medical support is just outrageous.

    What is ME? ME is not fatigue it is a neurological disorder which effects a multitude of systems within the individual and depending on that persons predisposition. The same as other complex diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes. Differing degrees of severity and symptoms is normal as with many other chronic long term conditions.

    ME is biological and not psychological illness that has an intolerance to any activity due to problems with Oxidative stress, energy production, glial cells (causing inflammation and chronic pain), calcium channels, higher levels of lactic acid in the brain and muscle, gut microbiome, hypothalamus damage, to name but a few of what researchers are finding. These researchers are funded by donations from charity alone. That is unbelievable when you consider 250,000 people suffer and 25,000 are children. ME equates to climbing up Kilimanjaro including the altitude sickness, when just going to go to the toilet. To not have the medical profession understand these facts of ME leaves the sufferer with PTSD.

    Everyone who suffers or watches their love one suffer is a #MEhero. The why or how are not known because the UK government refuse to demand biomedical research. Our disease is ridiculed in the medical profession so going to hospital can be torture to an already tortured bod due to the treatment our loved one receive. It is inhumane.

    To have all this and a severe tummy bug is beyond our understanding of pain and misery. When Merry Croft Died the Doctor felt helpless to ease her pain. We know what this disease does but we still allow the suffering to continue. When does society start to care? When does medicine do no more harm and when does our Government take responsibility?

  3. Chris Reply

    I have suffered from ME/CFS for several years. My symptoms began a few months after receiving 2 vaccines as well as using Roundup week killer at my home and work. I continued to have more and more symptoms and diseases involving my endocrine system. Diabetes, hypogonadism, sensitivities to meds and foods. I have to treat my symptoms the best I can with vitamins. I don’t get any help here in the US either. I did read and article on the CDC that suggests possible causes and toxins was listed as one. It is sad our government does not do more to end the exposures to heavy metals used in vaccines, roundup, MRI contrast gadolinium, and dental amalgams. It should be criminal charges filed against any company and or scientist that claim these chemicals are safe. Then we also need to go after the very same government organizations that are supposed to protect us from these deadly chemicals. Here in the U.S. the FDA and CDC are responsible for exposing us to this poisoning.

  4. Marian Cleary Reply

    “To have all this and a severe tummy bug is beyond our understanding of pain and misery.”


  5. Adinas Henry Reply

    This is a terrible disease. I have been ridiculed and treated badly by the medical profession time and time again. I never go to emergency department anymore, no matter how bad I feel, because as soon as they find out you have ME/CFS their whole attitude changes. I was told in a country hospital, recently, that hospitals are for sick people, not people who are just tired 🙁 I was feeling so ill and even though they kept me in the weekend i had no one to help me to the shower so I had to use the basin next to my bed to wash myself. I was completed neglected by the medical staff and was told my by one of the nurses to just get up and move around a bit then you’ll feel better 🙁 they have no idea that exerting yourself when you are a severe ME patient can make you even sicker. I have symptoms from severe headache, heart palpitations, GERD, interstitial cystitis- I often bleed from this, severe pain in chest and back mainly, weakness, often so paralysed that i cannot walk to the toilet, numbness in extremities, arms, legs, shaking, insomnia, brain fog and the list goes on and on this is not just a chronic fatigue this is a multi-system illness and the medical profession don’t want to know about us. I have Fibromyalgia as well and they will acknowledge that but not ME.Also I am not surprised she was emotionally unwell as this illness gives you Current traumatic stress disorder 🙁

  6. Rivka Reply

    Yet another suicide because patients are neglected with this most serious disease: ME. It is time the governments around the country and around the globe wake up and realize this is a crisis in clinical care. Patients do not have treatments, they do not have help, they do not have hope.

    To donate to an amazing and excellent ME research organization, look into Open Medicine Foundation.

  7. Robie Reply

    Condolences to the family. From another ME patient who understands the struggle <3

  8. Phil Conrad Reply

    I feel great sadness for Amy Kesteven’s family and friends.

    Some of the doctors said she suffered from various mental maladies. That could be, but I hope these comments do not diminish Amy’s need for direct treatment of her physical symptoms of ME. Also, I wonder if the family agrees with these assessments of how mentally unstable she was over the years. Sometimes weak people in the medical profession fear saying. “I don’t know how to treat this illness,” as if the medical profession is magically supposed to be all-knowing in the current age. Of course, it is not. So some weak doctors find a way to blame patient hysteria or something similar even when there is no evidence.

    Amy’s brother said, “Amy was the strongest person I have ever known, she carried the burden of her condition with true grace and she never lost hope that she could overcome it and live a full life again, like she did as a young girl.” She was brave. She must have finally lost hope, though, that she could be saved from ME (some call it CFS).

    I will put stock in what Amy’s family believes about the balance between the degree of physical and mental illness(es) that plagued Amy’s life. They know best. The family would know what Amy knew about her own condition. What I am really saying is I believe the patient. I believe Amy herself.

    I wish society had provided real biomedical research into ME/CFS over recent decades. It is too late for Amy, but such research can be a high priority over the coming years. Many governments around the world rightly fund research on multiple sclerosis and other quite serious medical illnesses. Yet research into ME/CFS is thrown pennies, and in too many countries, is wrongly categorized as primarily psychological.

    Civil societies can and must do better for the many other people who currently have ME or who will contract it in the near future.

    We have lost Amy. Please let us ease the symptoms of current ME patients and stop the losses of family and friends.

  9. Colin Barton Reply

    Myalgic encephalopathy (ME) or Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) that can sometimes follow a viral infection or trauma is classified as a neurological disorder and guidelines have been issued for the medical profession. Symptoms include profound physical and mental fatigue, concentration and working memory difficulties – mild confusion, muscle pain, sleep and mood disturbances, gastric and vision problems. See: http://www.measussex.org.uk

  10. Dani Reply

    My sincere condolences to Amy’s family! My heart breaks over the fact she was unable to receive the help from a Doctor! I also suffer with ME, so I fully understand what this sickness does to the body and mind!

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