Was cannabis to blame for our son's suicide?

The parents of a young musician who killed himself on a railway line have been left questioning whether cannabis caused their son's mental illness.

Ben Gregory, a talented trombonist, was prone to stress when he started using the Class B drug when he was 18 years old.

But after starting university studies, he began showing signs of paranoia and was diagnosed with psychosis and paranoid schizophrenia after suffering from night frights, depression and hearing voices in his head.

The 25-year-old, who lived in Wisteria Gardens, Havant, was given medication and received counselling. But he died after stepping out in front of a train at Warblington Railway Station in Havant on June 8 last year.

An inquest in Petersfield heard Ben didn't have any alcohol or drugs in his system when he died. But his parents still don't know whether cannabis caused their son to develop his mental illness.

His father, Raymond, said: 'The medics couldn't tell us for certain. But we know cannabis can cause psychosis in about one per cent of young men.

'Stress can also be a trigger. He was finding it difficult to cope with his university course and family problems and his grandfather died in the middle of this.'

Ben's mum, Pamela Parry-Jones, said: 'He dabbled with cannabis when he was 18. He had difficulties all through his life. He found it difficult through school and college, and he found our divorce difficult.'

Ben struggled with academic studies until he found his niche playing the trombone as part of a jazz course at Chichester College.

He went on to study jazz at Middlesex University but never finished the course. But he loved music and was a founder member of the ska band Hakuna Pesa.

His parents said their son was much-missed.

Mr Gregory said: 'It's a tragedy for all of us. Ben was a lovely lad, very talented, good-looking. It was great to have him around. We all miss him tremendously.'

Mrs Parry-Jones said: 'He was so loveable. Everybody loved him.'

Coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict that Ben had taken his own life while suffering from severe psychiatric illness.

'He seemed fine before he died...'

Ben Gregory had previously tried to take his own life, the coroner was told

In February 2008 CCTV operators spotted him apparently preparing to jump from the footbridge above the railway lines at Havant station.

Police talked him down, but the inquest heard that Ben spoke about suicide on a number of occasions afterwards, particularly when he was in low spirits.

The 25-year-old seemed fine during the days leading up to his death on Monday, June 8, last year.

But at 9.10pm that day two dog walkers spotted someone lying on the tracks at Warblington train station.

They saw the man get up and asked a passer-by to call the emergency services as they didn't have a phone on them.

But the call was never made, and 20 minutes later Ben stepped out in front of a Portsmouth-bound train and was killed instantly.

His father Raymond Gregory said: 'He had stopped taking his medication because he didn't like the weight gain and the feelings of lethargy that came as side effects to the drugs.

'He seemed fine before his death. I had one slight hint of him displaying symptoms on the Thursday before when he sat down and just stared at the floor.

'But over the weekend he seemed brighter. He went skateboarding with his friends for the day on Sunday and he seemed fine on Sunday evening which was the last time I saw him.

'I was told subsequently by a GP and a psychiatric nurse that it's when someone is feeling better they're at their most dangerous. When they're really down they don't feel they have the strength or fortitude to do it.'