Grieving family stresses importance of speaking out about mental health issues
THE importance of speaking out about mental health issues was emphasised by a grieving family during an inquest on Thursday.
HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire, Paul Bennet, heard how James Dunn a talented DJ and musician who ‘lived for his music’, died after taking a combination of drugs.
Lisa Jenkins, coroner’s officer, told the inquest that Mr Dunn, 24, had studied IT, art and design at Pembrokeshire College before moving to Bristol where he attended college and worked as a DJ.
He had used cannabis as a teenager but his family suspected that he may have started using harder drugs in Bristol.
In 2018 he moved back to Pembrokeshire and began working as a chef at the Lost Coins pub in Haverfordwest.
The inquest heard that in 2020 Mr Dunn’s demeanour ‘started to deteriorate’. He left his job as a chef due to the hours and split up with his girlfriend.
He confided in family that he had taken Valium and on another occasion ketamine and agreed to meet with the Dyfed drug and alcohol service.
In March 2020 he moved out of his sister’s home to another address and on April 8 and 9 contacted his mother asking her to lend him money.
At 6.20pm on April 9 he was admitted to Withybush Hospital with a suspected recreational drug overdose. He responded to the medication given and staff advised him to stay at the hospital for at least two hours.
However, Mr Dunn discharged himself and by 10.30pm had gone to see friends living on City Road, Haverfordwest.
He told them he had been in hospital and had stopped breathing. The friends said it seemed as if he had taken drugs as he was falling in and out of sleep and getting muddled.
While chatting, Mr Dunn took Xanax with another friend and at around midnight the pair walked to his home together. When he got to his address, he realised he had left his phone behind and his friend collected it and returned it.
At 4.20pm the next day different friends called to Mr Dunn’s address to meet up for a barbeque. When they found him unresponsive, they dialled 999 and then carried out CPR until paramedics arrived but their attempts were unfortunately unsuccessful.
A toxicology report showed a combination of drugs in Mr Dunn’s blood including morphine, ketamine, benzodiazepines and buprenorphine.
A post mortem concluded that, while no single drug was in a concentration to directly lead to death, their combined effect was enough to cause cardio respiratory depression.
Mr Dunn’s sister, Samantha Davies, told the inquest that her brother was ‘amazing’ and the ‘life and soul of everything’.
“We just wish he would have spoken up more,” she said. “It’s just been such a constant struggle with James’ mental health. I just don’t want it to happen to anybody else.
“He was the best uncle that my children could have asked for. He was a massive part of the music scene, that was his life, he loved everything about music. He is missed by the family and the Pembrokeshire music scene.
“It was an unfortunate waste of a life. He was a good person.”
Mr Bennett recorded a verdict of drug related death saying it was caused by the combined toxic effects of ingesting morphine, ketamine, benzodiazepines and buprenorphine.
“The history of this case is of a young man who had a very promising life, having been able to leave school with qualifications, go on to a university type course and who had a certain degree of talent in the music industry,” he said.
“It is very sad to find someone with such skills and talent should have his life cut short by such unnecessary means.”