Coroner tells of ice's deadly impact

A FATHER and businessman who committed suicide after getting hooked on the drug “ice” has been described as a classic victim of the destructive impact of using crystal methylamphetamine.

Coroner Jonathan Klestadt this week released a finding into the death of the Portland man, aged in his late 30s, during October last year.

He highlighted the case in an effort to educate the community about the inherent risks involved in the use of illicit drugs. 

“With ice being so readily available, the warning that dire consequences can ensue is timely and might counter the message from some quarters that experimentation with and use of illegal drugs is OK,” Mr Klestadt said. 

The Standard has agreed not to use the man’s name at the request of his family.

The man’s wife, parents and friends knew there was something wrong but no one realised the extent of his drug use. His father even described his son as being anti-drug, but the statement of a friend revealed the true extent of the man’s addiction.

He had been a cannabis user since he was aged 14 and later had started using ice.

Traces of crystal methylamphetamine, amphetamine and cannabis were found in his post mortem toxicological test results.

At the time of his suicide the man was separated from his wife and young children following a downward spiral of violent and destructive behaviour during the previous 12 months. 

He had run a successful business but in the year before his death had become increasingly stressed, affecting his marriage and leading to a separation two months before his death. 

His wife and their children had become terrified of his erratic behaviour. He had made threats to her and towards the end of his life regularly threatened to kill himself.

Their separation only added to the man’s stress and deterioration, despite continued attempts by his wife and family to offer him support. His wife hoped he would “snap out” of his mental state and they could resume their lives, even though she knew there was “absolutely nothing left” of the man she knew.

She said she begged him to get help but he continued to deny he had a problem.

Several contacts were made with mental health services but the man declined many opportunities to seek help, although he had contact with Lifeline and a men’s service in Warrnambool. In his own words the man said he “died of sadness” and that he could only cry for so long before running out of tears.

Mr Klestadt said with the benefit of hindsight it was reasonable to speculate that the use of illicit drugs was a significant contributor to his death.

“The paranoid behaviour which is described in the various statements I have been provided with is entirely consistent with the use of cannabis and amphetamines,” he said.

- If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Website: lifeline.org.au

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