‘Well-loved’ Manchester advertising executive hanged himself after taking mix of drugs and alcohol for anxiety

A Manchester advertising executive described as the ‘life and soul’ of parties hanged himself after taking a mix of drugs and alcohol to cope with an anxiety condition.

Ian Wilkinson, 28, was known for his quick wit and intelligence which helped him flourish in his career in public relations at Access Advertising.

But unbeknown to his employers the bachelor was struggling at home with severe depressive symptoms which dated back to his teenage years.

He would snort cocaine and go on drinking binges to deal with his severe anxiety problems, an inquest heard.

Ian later became embroiled in debt to payday loan companies in an attempt to fund his habit for which his parents – a doctor and a headmaster – paid £4,000 to bail him out.

He was found hanged at the family home in Didsbury, Manchester, just hours after texting his GP mother Janet, “you won’t have to worry about me much longer. I will be out of your hair soon.”

The hearing in Manchester was told Ian had been a talented writer who colleagues said had a ‘wicked sense of humour’.

After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a Masters degree in International Public Relations, he got a series of administration jobs before accepting a post as PR & Social Media Executive at Access Advertising in 2012.

On his LinkedIn page he said: “Really enjoying my new job, the people and the ‘can do’ attitude that we have in the office.

“It’s nice to go to work in the morning and enjoy it, I never really thought I’d say that.

“Can’t wait to learn more and hopefully I can use my thirst for more knowledge to help the company to continue the great PR work we do.”

But the hearing was told Ian had been confiding to his mother about his reliance on alcohol to aid his anxiety and he was referred to a private mental health hospital for treatment.

PC Stephen McGonigle, who investigated Ian’s death, told the hearing: “Ian presented a confident persona but wanted to have a steady girlfriend. His relationships didn’t last long.

“His salary led to binge drinking and he was prescribed anti-depressants but admitted to his mother he was taking cocaine while on them.

“He worked throughout but the drinking continued and he could go days or weeks without alcohol but would then binge for several days.

“He was using cocaine to overcome his anxiety and his social life since leaving university was not great and he would drink on his own.”

Ian went to Malaysia to visit his father Donald Wilkinson, who is currently headmaster of the independent Bearwood College in Wokingham, Surrey, but who at the time was working as an acting headteacher at a school in Asia.

During the visit Ian seemed happy and back to his normal self but on his return he fell back into depression where he would drink and take cocaine alone.

Tragedy then struck in June last year after his mother went to work.

PC McGonigle added: “She phoned him while at work but he didn’t reply. She then rang his work and was told he hadn’t arrived. At 1pm he text to say he was ok. She asked why he wasn’t at work but he said he was.

“She considered going home at lunch but decided against it as she was working at the surgery. Having finished at 8pm she went home. Upon arrival she found herself in trepidation as to what she may find and thought he would be in a coma or hanging.

“Once Janet had found him inside she called the police and told them she was a GP and she knew he was dead.”

Ian was found to be dressed in his work clothes at the time of his death after promising to go into the office that day.

Tests showed he was the equivalent of four-and-a-half times the legal drink driving limit when he died.

Recording an open conclusion, Manchester assistant coroner Fiona Borrill said the alcohol coupled with no suicide note led her to believe it was not clear whether Ian intended to kill himself at the time.

She told the family: “Can I offer my sincere sympathies in this terrible situation you have found yourselves in.”

In a statement Ian’s family said: “Ian was a lovely, kind, genuinely nice man and had friends from all walks of life. He worked in PR, a job which he loved.

“Ian didn’t judge people on their background or their academic abilities and we have had such heartwarming letters from all those whose paths he crossed. His kind words or deeds had really touched them and he never sought praise for these.

“Sadly, Ian developed severe anxiety and depressive symptoms in his teenage years and these overwhelming feelings of fear and low mood, blighted his life thereafter.”

A tribute from Ian’s employers and colleagues at Access Advertising said: “Ian was the life and soul of the office, a well-loved colleague with a wicked sense of humour.

“He was a talented writer and an even better story teller. Sadly, Ian was troubled by anxiety and depressive symptoms and recently lost his battle with mental health problems.

“The team miss seeing his face, hearing his hilarious quips and receiving his silly photos and articles.”

Ian’s family have already raised nearly £11,000 in his memory through the charity MIND, which helps those with mental health problems.

To donate, click here

Story via Cavendish Press

Image via memory space, with thanks

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