Coroner returns open verdict over death of teenager

jpns-13-02-13-001 Robbie Hale
jpns-13-02-13-001 Robbie Hale
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THE mother of a 16-year-old who hanged himself has told an inquest how his personality changed after being prescribed acne medication.

Robbie Hale was found dead in the garage of his home in Lee-on-the-Solent on January 8, 2011.

An inquest in Portsmouth today heard how the teenager, who was described by his parents as outgoing and confident, became aggressive and lost his confidence after he was prescribed isotretinoin, a treatment for acne.

Robbie’s mother, Lorraine Hale, told the hearing at Portsmouth Guildhall that prior to taking the medication, he had been a confident and capable youngster.

She said he had not been embarrassed or teased about his acne but sought treatment when it became uncomfortable on his back and interfered with his enjoyment of sports.

She said: ‘He was super-confident, out-going, popular, good academically, good sportingly, lots of friends.

‘He was quite sensitive, apart from that absolutely fine, not a worrier but sensitive to other people’s feelings.

‘He was quite calm, happy-go-lucky.’

But she said that after the medication, he had anger issues and would punch holes in doors at their home and break furniture.

She said they had been advised of the side-effects when the medication was prescribed but it had not concerned her because of her son’s previously positive demeanour.

But she added: ‘Robbie’s personality changed, not instantly but he started saying that all his mates were leaving him out and [he was] getting really aggressive.

‘I went to the GP and it was mentioned to him, I said he was having anger issues. The GP said it was hormonal and dismissed it.’

The inquest heard Robbie became upset at the breakdown of his relationship with his girlfriend who moved to Derby to live with her mother.

He then made a suicide attempt at the end of September and left a note saying there was no point in living and finished it by stating: ‘Please bury me and live your lives.’

The inquest heard that Robbie stopped taking the medication at this point.

His family said he became happier by the end of that year and his aggression had dropped off.

But in the New Year he regained contact with his ex-girlfriend and they had an argument.

Mrs Hale said she did not know Robbie had suicidal thoughts again.

The night before he died, the family enjoyed a night out at a bowling alley.

‘We all had such a good time, he was laughing and joking,’ Mrs Hale added.

The inquest was told there was no scientifically proven link between the drug and suicide.

But David Horsley, the coroner for Portsmouth, recorded an open verdict and explained he could not rule out a possible link between the drug and Robbie’s state of mind.

He said he would write to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) requesting it implements more rigorous guidelines on the use of isotretinoin with tighter psychiatric screening of patients, particularly children and young adults.

He said: ‘Although I cannot say it most likely did have an effect on Robbie, there is the uncertainty that it could have an effect on someone else.’