Amanda Beckles, 51, was found dead in the bedroom of her flat in Notting Hill, west London in December
A campaigner for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire gassed herself to death after writing a letter describing how the disaster had wrecked her life, an inquest heard.
Amanda Beckles, 51, was found dead in her bedroom after police went to her flat on Notting Hill, west London in December.
Westminster Coroner’s court heard Ms Beckles sought therapy after witnessing the blaze that killed 72 people after flames engulfed the tower block on 14 June, 2017.
She frequently expressed anxieties about her mental and financial state and displayed symptoms of PTSD.
PC Gavin Harwood, who attended Ms Beckles’ home on December 13, told the inquest: ‘I forced open the door and went upstairs.
‘There was a note on the bedroom door saying “warning, room filled with nitrogen gas”.
‘Knowing that the occupant had taken her own life with gas and that other residents were at risk I suggested we evacuated. Firefighters with gas masks later entered the room.’
Police Sergeant Mark Steadman told the court: ‘I have declared the death not suspicious. The deceased was found behind locked doors and appears to have inhaled amounts of gas.’
Two notes were later found by police and reading from one the coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, said:
‘By the time you read this I will have passed. I need to let you know that there is nothing you could have done to stop this from happening.
‘The Grenfell Tower fire has affected me badly. I had hoped the worst would be over but 17 months after I still suffer from acute anxiety.
Westminster Coroner’s court heard Ms Beckles sought therapy after witnessing the blaze that killed 72 people after flames engulfed the tower block on 14 June, 2017 (pictured)
‘I really don’t know why it has affected me so badly but it isn’t a life worth living.’
A post mortem gave the cause of death as asphyxia.
Ms Beckles was the founder and coordinator of the Grenfell Tower Community Monitoring Project and lived just 1,000 feet from the scene of the tragedy.
Elizabeth Abrahams, an outreach worker, who had also worked with Ms Beckles, said: ‘She was a proud lady and very well known in the community.
‘She advocated on behalf of so many people in the community.
‘She was acting in the capacity that I knew her to so many people, she was the one who would pick up the phone.
‘Any sort of phone calls, bills, utilities, that was what I helped her with.
Ms Abrahams said that she had attended the Grenfell Enquiry with Ms Beckles.
‘She always tried to support her community.
‘She found the nature of the enquiry so traumatic – we needed to support her. She never chose to give a next of kin.
‘On my last visit to her she took me to her allotment – she took a lot of pride in it. She told me she wanted to become a yoga teacher – she had plans.
Dr John Green, clinical director of the Grenfell Service, said it was ‘very important that every borough has a suicide awareness strategy.
Dr Fiona Wilcox, recording a verdict of suicide, said: ‘Amanda lived very close to the fire and there is no doubt that she was extremely traumatised by it.
‘Following the fire she worked in the community providing support, acting as an advocate, making so many posts on social media and, at the time of her death, she was still working.
‘I am entirely satisfied there are no suspicious circumstances in this case.
‘Amanda had left a sign on the door warning of the nitrogen gas and two notes, one to her mother which described the reasons for her doing this.
‘Namely the PTSD an the hopelessness that she felt that her life would never recover.
‘Christine Coho has described a lady who was thoughtful, reflective and motivated to treat herself.
‘In my view Amanda had done everything she could to help herself. I find the care given to her to be very good indeed.
‘I accept that there was no immediate sign that she would take her own life.
‘This was a lady who was intensely anxious. I find that Amanda took her own life while suffering from severe and enduring mental health problems.
Dr Wilcox offered her personal condolences to Ms Beckles’ friends and members of the community who had attended the hearing.
‘It is intensely sad what has happened – the Grenfell fire decimated a community and it has hit the most vulnerable hardest.’