Liam Stubbs, 22, had a ‘well-documented’ history of impulsive self-destructive behaviour which - the inquest at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre on Wednesday was told - professionals linked to his use of drugs including cocaine and sleeping aids altering his mental state.
At around 12.20am on May 15, 2021, Liam sent a text message to his mum Kayla which sparked concern when she picked it up later that morning. She went to his home and found he’d hanged himself outside.
Toxicology reports confirmed he had taken several sleeping aids and had traces of cocaine in his system - although some time had passed since he’d taken that drug.
Liam, of Shield Avenue, Worsbrough Bridge, was first involved with mental health services in July 2017, when he expressed to doctors thoughts of ending his own life, the inquest was told. He was not found to be suicidal - although it was noted repeated use of substances, namely cocaine, mephedrone (M-CAT) and ‘street diazepam’, would make Liam more prone to fits of impulsiveness that eventually led to him seemingly trying to take his own life several times.
Dr Srinivas Bayya described how Liam was not a regular drug user, but turned to substances due to peer pressure or, particularly, in times of stress - as a means of dealing with anxiety or grief.
He said he was aware of the problems drugs were causing him, and professionals said Liam expressed a desire to change his life - with him going to see a private therapist.
“He denied ongoing suicidal intent but assessors thought he was minimising the concerns,” said Dr Bayya, referring to an episode in July, 2020, when Liam was detained under the mental health act in Kendray Hospital’s Beamshaw ward.
“He told me he just had a bad week, and he made an impulsive decision under the influence of cocaine.
“I thought he was slightly elevated in his mood but he didn’t have any other symptoms. He said that is his usual personality, he’s always somebody who’s on the go, and he’s a happy person.
“Liam was a high-functioning young man, but from what I’ve seen he has acted a few times in the spur of the moment without thinking much of the consequences.
“Using substances could increase that impulsivity.
“He found it difficult to cope with the stress which led him to use substances and in that state he had made these impulsive decisions to end his life.
“But immediately after, he had shown consistent future planning and regretted what he had tried.”
Dr Bayya said Liam’s drug use could have been seen as a temporary relief for his anxiety, but the longer-term effects - which may have remained for days or weeks after - could exacerbate stress and impair his thinking.
The construction worker had, the court was told, a number of significant personal issues including struggling with living in a new place - having moved into his own home, after previously renting it to tenants who ran up thousands in unpaid rent - the deaths of family pets, and the breakdown of a relationship.
The latter saw Liam crash his car on the M1 after alluding to ending his own life in February, 2021, although Dr Sapan Sunder said he had only been going around 40mph as he drove with tears in his eyes. He was later found by police and taken to Wakefield’s Fieldhead Hospital.
Liam had been preparing for a Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge for the Alzheimer’s Society shortly before his death, which family and friends took on in his memory and raised thousands for mental health charities.