Caroline Flack talked about taking her own life when she was extremely upset, an inquest into her death has been told.
The former Love Island presenter, who was found at her home in Stoke Newington, north London, on 15 February, was distressed about the media focus on her life and reputation, the inquest at Poplar coroner’s court heard on Wednesday morning.
A note believed to be referencing her boyfriend in a positive way was also found following her death.
The inquest heard that Stephen Teasdale, the father of a friend of Flack’s, went to her flat after being told by Flack’s sister Jody that she could not get in.
The pair managed to enter the property, where they found the popular presenter. Paramedics said Flack appeared to have been “dead for a number of hours” when they arrived soon after.
A handwritten note was found in an open magazine on the coffee table.
It referenced, positively, “Lewis”, believed to be Flack’s boyfriend Lewis Burton.
Flack died a month before she was due to face trial accused of assaulting Burton, though he did not want the charges to go ahead.
Flack firmly denied being an abuser, and said the incident was an argument and accident in an unpublished social media post released by her family.
Burton said in a statement at the coroner’s court: “The last time he saw Caroline she was very upset, in fact devastated, she was not in a good place emotionally.
“Sometimes she talked about taking her own life when she was extremely upset.
“The media were constantly bashing her character, writing hurtful stories … generally hounding her daily.
“What was worrying her most was the police case and losing her presenting job on Love Island, plus not being able to see me.”
Flack’s mother Chris said she felt her daughter was “let down by the authorities” and the Crown Prosecution Service “for pursuing the case”.
She said media attention for a court hearing “forced Caroline to leave her home which she loved”.
“Being well-known should not allow special treatment, but should not allow making an example of someone,” Chris said, adding that Flack was told not to speak about her case.
She added: “I believe she was heartbroken.
“I know nothing will bring her back, but I do want people to know what a lovely, kind, generous person she was.
“She never spoke badly of anyone and was totally loyal, that’s why she was always devastated when people close to her were happy to let her personal life appear in print.”
No trace of alcohol was found in Flack’s system, a postmortem examination found, but the presence of zopiclone, used for insomnia, just above the therapeutic range, was found.
Tamsin Lewis, a psychiatrist and lifestyle medicine practitioner, said in a statement that she was contacted by Flack’s personal assistant on December 2019.
She said she was told Flack was “in the middle of a media crisis and could not sleep”, and needed sleeping aids.
Flack was “very distressed and tearful” and had “a bandaged finger” following a fight with her boyfriend.
“She reported having panicky feelings all day… a sense of impending doom,” Lewis said, adding that Flack had not described having any suicidal intent.
Flack’s sister said the press were “hounding” Flack: “She attempted to take her own life the night before she appeared in court. I believe the shame… was too much to deal with.”
She added that Flack’s “life and reputation she worked hard to build was falling apart”.
Flack’s death created anger at what some believed was intrusive and sensationalised media coverage, with celebrities, commentators and social media users condemning the level of scrutiny.
A petition calling for legislation criminalising media harassment to the point where someone takes their own life has received more than 860,000 signatures.
There was a wave of tributes to the popular presenter after her death.
Burton said at the time that his “heart is broken”, while friend and fellow presenter Laura Whitmore said Flack was “vivacious, loving and had a passion for life, which is why none of this makes sense”.
“I’ve seen journalists and Twitter warriors talk about this tragedy and they themselves have twisted what the truth is,” she said.
“You don’t have to tear someone down to feel good about yourself.”
The inquest continues.
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