Woman, 33, starved herself to death, inquest finds

Verdict of death by suicide after body was discovered in upstairs bedroom of woman's home in Dublin
Woman, 33, starved herself to death, inquest finds

The body of Elizabeth Radhakrishnan, 33, was discovered in an upstairs bedroom of her home by gardaí who had been alerted by family members concerned that they had no contact from her for over two weeks. File photo

A woman found dead at the side of her bed in a south Dublin suburb two years ago starved herself to death, an inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court has heard.

The body of Elizabeth Radhakrishnan, 33, was discovered in an upstairs bedroom of her home at Longwood Park, Rathfarnham, on June 20, 2019, by gardaí who had been alerted by family members concerned that they had no contact from her for over two weeks.

The deceased’s cousin, Nicola Murray, told the inquest that the death of Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret, in June 2018 from cancer had a big impact on her cousin and she suspected Elizabeth was suffering from depression.

The witness said she used to contact her cousin by phone or text as she refused repeated offers to meet in person and had turned down invitations to visit her relatives in New Ross, Co. Wexford, for Christmas and for a family christening.

Ms Murray said the last text she had from her cousin was on June 4, 2019, when Elizabeth replied to say she was “grand”.

The day of the discovery

She became worried after Elizabeth failed to respond to a text she sent on the morning of June 20, 2019, as it was most unusual for her not to reply to a text within 20 minutes.

Ms Murray said she and her father, Michael Brady, decided to travel up from New Ross to check on Elizabeth as her phone was off when they tried to call her and it had been 16 days since their last contact from her.

When they got no answer at Elizabeth’s house and neighbours said they had not seen her in several weeks, they called gardaí for assistance to get into the property.

“I could tell something was seriously wrong,” said Ms Murray.

The inquest heard gardaí found Ms Radhakrishnan kneeling on the floor with her head resting on her bed after they had used a neighbour’s ladder to climb in an open upstairs window.

Garda Ciaran Kelly said there was no evidence of any instrument or medication that might have been linked to her death, but said Ms Radhakrishnan’s body was “extremely emaciated". He also observed that her clothes were “ill-fitting due to weight loss” while a suicide note was found at the scene.

Garda Kelly noted that two goldfish in a fish tank in the bedroom were still alive.

Mental health struggle

In reply to questions from the coroner, Aisling Gannon, Ms Murray said her cousin had struggled with her mental health even before her mother died.

Mr Brady said Elizabeth’s father had been trying to get help for his daughter for a long time but was informed that Elizabeth, as an adult, would have to seek help for herself.

The inquest heard an autopsy calculated that Ms Radhakrishnan had a body mass index of 7.72 at the time of her death. Any measure below 18.5 is considered underweight for an adult.

The autopsy report found the deceased had no underlying physical health conditions and no alcohol or drugs were found in her body.

Ms Gannon said she was satisfied that Ms Radhakrishnan’s sudden and unexpected death was as a result of starvation.

Based on the evidence, the coroner returned a verdict of death by suicide.

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