A coroner has issued a warning about mixing alcohol and cocaine after the Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon killed herself after consuming both substances.
The 32-year-old was found hanged at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland, by her boyfriend and his brother in June, an inquest in North Tyneside heard on Thursday.
The coroner Eric Armstrong said there was no evidence of any third-party involvement in her death.
Toxicology tests showed she had a blood alcohol reading of 201mg per 100ml – about three times the legal driving limit – and had also taken cocaine.
The coroner said research in the US suggested the combination made people 16 times more likely to kill themselves.
He said: “If Sophie’s death is to serve any purpose at all, that message should go out far and wide.”
He concluded: “Sophie Hannah Gradon, having consumed alcohol and cocaine, took her own life by hanging.”
Gradon’s boyfriend, Aaron Armstrong, was found dead 20 days after she killed herself, also after having taken cocaine and alcohol, and the coroner made a similar ruling at his inquest last month.
The couple were not staying together on 19 June, the night before she was found dead, because they were each looking after their parents’ dogs, but they had exchanged loving messages.
Armstong was concerned when he did not hear from her on 20 June and went to her home with his brother Ryan. They broke in after looking through a window and found Gradon in the living room with her mobile phones nearby. They attempted to give her CPR until paramedics arrived.
A detailed police investigation, including a postmortem conducted by a Home Office pathologist, followed.
DS Neill Jobling told the inquest Gradon had previously experienced mental health issues, including low self-esteem and anxiety, and had been prescribed medication, which she was still taking when she died.
The last person to have contact with her was a friend, Sondeep Gill, who like Gradon had known Paul Burns, a popular Newcastle bar boss, who had recently died. Gill told detectives Gradon had been upset about Burns’ death and expressed suicidal thoughts in a phone call in the early hours.
Jobling told the inquest that Gradon said to Gill that “she struggles with the world, no one knows why or how”, and she “couldn’t figure out life but she was trying”.
Gill told police Gradon’s voice was slurred and that he had tried to keep the conversation light-hearted during the 48-minute call.
Jobling said: “His perception is she had had a drink and was feeling emotional. She told him several times he had saved her.”
At some point, he gained the impression she had dropped her phone and after trying to text her, he went to sleep.
The detective said: “He later found Sophie had died which left him feeling sick.”
On 19 June, Gradon had exchanged messages with her friend Hannah McGuire, who later told police she had been “happy and did not appear troubled”.
The coroner said the former Miss Great Britain would not have acted as she did if she had not taken cocaine and alcohol, which had made her behave irrationally. He said: “The combination I am given to understand is used by those who believe it brings on a so-called high much quicker.
“What they may not appreciate is it is also now thought to give rise to violent thoughts, and those thoughts can be against the self.”
Gradon’s fellow Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis was found dead last month, prompting calls from the health secretary, Matt Hancock, for reality shows to do more to support competitors once they have become famous.
• In the UK and Irish Republic contact Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org