Annabel Wright, a "bright" and "happy" teen schoolgirl who took her own life in May 2019, allegedly did it due to the side effects of a powerful anti-acne drug that she may not have needed in the first place.
The 15-year-old was found dead in her bedroom at her home in Ripon, North Yorkshire, on May 1, 2019. She had been taking Roaccutane for nine months before the tragedy.
An inquest in Northallerton is currently examining whether the drug, which comes with a warning that it can cause severe psychiatric side effects including depression and psychosis, played a role in Annabel's death. Her parents told the inquest that they were not aware that the drug can lead to patients considering self-harm or taking their own lives in rare cases, reports BBC.
Her mother Helen Wright said that her daughter had acne from the age of 12 and had tried a variety of prescribed treatments. She was referred to see dermatologists at Harrogate District Hospital in October 2018, where she was prescribed isotretinoin as a potential treatment. Helen expressed concerns that she had heard about cases in the US of young people who had killed themselves after using the drug, but the dermatologist said that could be "because they are depressed about their skin." Helen insisted that her daughter was never depressed about her skin.
Dr. El-Mansori, who had prescribed the medicine, confirmed the conversation she had with Helen regarding the suicide cases, but added, "I always say to patients no proven causal relationship has been established." She noted that she suggested the medicines to Annabel as she was "at risk of permanent scarring" and she hadn't responded to previous treatments, adding that no psychological concerns were identified with her. Annabel's mother said that the dermatologist's words about permanent scars had "panicked" her 14-year-old girl" so she immediately agreed.
Professor Anthony Chu, a dermatologist called as an expert witness, noted that the drug should only be used for treating "severe acne" and Annabel did not fit this criteria. Helen told the hearing that dealing with acne for so many years was not even affecting her daughter on that scale, saying, "It did not bother her. She was not distressed about it particularly. She was concerned she would get some scarring. Like most teenagers, she would go into the bathroom and pick at it a bit and ask 'Do you think it will scar? I said 'No. Just leave it alone. She was not distressed about it."
"Annabel was the brightest, loveliest child. She always was. I used to tell her she would live to be 120 because nothing ever bothered her. Everything used to go over her head. She was not one for moods. She was just an easy going happy child with no issues. She was very happy (at her school, St Aiden's school in Harrogate). She was doing really well. She had a great circle of friends. She never had any issues at school. She loved the social side. She was a very sociable child," Helen added.
Annabel's father Simon Wright also remembered her as a happy child, saying, "We adored her, she adored us, we were a close family. She wore her heart on her sleeve so you'd always be able to tell if there was a change in her mood."
If you or someone you know is having thoughts about suicide, the Samaritans provide a free support service for those who need to talk to someone in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Visit Samaritans.org or call 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI), 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Visit this website to find a support phone number in your country.