Thursday 26 April 2018

'Don't be like me' – inquest told of Kate's final text to best friend

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

media consultant Kate Fitzgerald texted her best friend, telling her "don't turn into me", just hours before she was found hanging in her bedroom.

The 25-year-old, who was found dead in her south Dublin home on August 23, 2011, had suffered "countless, incredibly regular depressive events" in the preceding years and had previously attempted suicide, an inquest into her death has heard.

The American-born Ms Fitzgerald, who was well-known as the head of the Irish branch of Democrats Abroad, wrote about her struggles with depression in an anonymous article which was published by a national newspaper two weeks after her death.

Ms Fitzgerald's best friend, Ceile Varley, said that in the months before her death the young executive had voluntarily admitted herself to St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin because she was "so scared at how intense she was about taking her own life".

She had attempted suicide on St Patrick's Day 2011 by taking alcohol and an overdose of prescription tablets.

Ms Varley told Dublin Coroner's Court that her friend admitted researching autopsy reports to find out how many tablets she would have to take in order to kill herself.

Ms Fitzgerald sent her friend a text message at 9.35pm on the night before she was found dead in which she wrote: "Don't turn into me."

The following day when Ms Fitzgerald failed to show up at work, her employers became concerned for her safety and rang her friend, Brendan Bruen.

He and another friend, Clare Brady, called to Ms Fitzgerald's cottage on Harty Place and found her lifeless body suspended inside a wardrobe.

Mr Bruen told how he and Ms Fitzgerald were in a romantic relationship for over a year until the summer of 2010, when they broke up. However they remained close friends.

He told how she took an overdose of tablets in the months before her death and told him she was "suicidal without a plan".

During her time in St Patrick's Hospital in July, Mr Bruen told her that he had started dating someone new.

"Kate had a crush on me and I was trying to move away from that . . . Kate was angry with me after I told her about my new partner," he said.

Asked by the solicitor for Ms Fitzgerald's parents, Tom and Sally, why he chose to tell her this while she was in hospital, Mr Bruen said he didn't want her to find out weeks later when her progress could be set back.

"We were one Facebook photograph away from her finding out about this . . . I believed it was the right thing to do to tell her in a controlled environment."

Mr Bruen told the inquest that Ms Fitzgerald believed her employer was not supportive of her after her hospitalisation and that she had been given lower-level jobs to do.

She felt she was being "shown the door", he said, and began looking for a new job.

On the evening before she was found dead, Ms Fitzgerald sent him a message via Google Chat at 8.22pm asking "would it be ok if I came over for an hour?"

At 8.44pm she sent another message saying "I take it it's a bad time, I shouldn't have asked. I'm sorry."

Mr Bruen said he did not see the messages at the time as he was having dinner with a friend.

The inquest was adjourned to May 23 next.

Irish Independent

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