Facebook post ‘signed death warrant’ of mum who overdosed after son’s suicide

A mother whose son took his own life after he was accused of harassment on Facebook died from an anti-depressant overdose six months later, an inquest heard.

Sarah Ghafoor’s devastated family said a Facebook post claiming her son Ben harassed his ex-partner ‘signed both their death warrants’.

Father-of-one Mr Ghafoor, 25, was scared the post would ‘ruin his life’ after it was widely shared online and ploughed his car into a tree at nearly 55mph.

Heartbroken Mrs Ghafoor, 55, was prescribed anti-depressants and was seen by mental health staff at Southern Health NHS Trust as she struggled to cope with her son’s death.

The business owner made three attempts to take her own life after Mr Ghafoor’s death on March 12.

She was tragically found dead in her bed six months later.

A coroner examining Mrs Ghafoor’s death could not determine whether she intended to kill herself and ruled she died a ‘drug-related death’ after taking a combination of prescribed tablets.

Winchester Coroner’s Court heard Mrs Ghafoor’s husband Afzal became concerned when she did not turn up for work at their car repair business on September 4 this year.

While the couple were separated, he remained close with her and went to her home in Chandler’s Ford, Hants, to check she was okay.

After letting himself in, Mr Ghafoor was horrified to discover her dead in her bed – where she had seemingly passed away in her sleep.

Mr Ghafoor said: "On August 31, Sarah purchased a kitten, I had not seen her as happy as that for a long time.

"On September 4, I attended work but there was not sign of Sarah. I called her and got no answer. As the day went on, I became more worried.

"I had a house key and I arrived at her home just after 4.30pm that day and let myself in. I called out and got no reply.

"When I went upstairs I opened the bedroom door and saw her lying there. She was lying on her left side and I said ‘come on, let’s have a cup of tea’.

"I was going to walk away when I noticed she had not moved. I kissed her on the cheek and she was ice cold. It was at this point I knew she had passed away."

It was heard she suffered with depression for around 20 years and had previously made attempts to take her life, however her family said this was only ever after she drank alcohol.

On the day she died, a pathologist’s report confirmed she had not been drinking.

Mrs Ghafoor’s daughter-in-law Sally Ghafoor told the court she just wanted ‘someone to help her’ but had been let down by Southern Health.

Her frustrated family revealed during the inquest Mrs Ghafoor had been told when she felt overwhelmed by her son’s death she should ‘count vegetables’ to help her cope.

Fighting back tears, her daughter-in-law told the inquest: "I called Southern Health begging for help and they were horrific to me on the phone. If there were like that to me, how would she have felt?

"She would call me when she was getting upset and I would go straight round and sit up all night with her.

"Sarah would say she did not want Ben to be on his own. She just wanted to stop feeling the way she was feeling.

"She wanted someone to help her, she wanted people to know the pain she was in and the only way she thought she could do that was to have a drink.

"There was just no help, she should have been referred to grief counselling. Since her death, we have had a liaison from the mental health team and that was what she needed.

"She needed someone she could phone, not someone who told her to count vegetables – her son had died."

Coroner Grahame Short concluded Mrs Ghafoor recorded a verdict of drug-related death but said he could not be sure what she was thinking and whether she intended to kill herself or not.

In a statement released after Mrs Ghafoor’s inquest, her family said: "The Facebook post not only signed Ben’s death warrant, it also signed Sarah’s too. Sarah’s heart was broken.

"Sarah was a funny, kind and courageous lady, with an amazing sense of humour. Anyone who met her would tell you what a wonderful person she was.

"We would urge people to stop and think before posting, sharing or commenting on social media.

"Our family has been torn apart, Christmas is a time for families and we are now facing a Christmas missing two very special family members.

"The void they leave can never be filled."

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

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