Stonham Aspal/Ipswich: Mother’s party drug warning after son takes his life

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 October 2011

Seth Saunders with his sister Gaia.

Seth Saunders with his sister Gaia.


A MOTHER has warned of the lethal dangers of party drugs after her son killed himself while trying to beat his addiction to the little-known substance GBL.

Sarane O’Connor has told how the Class C drug – chillingly known on the club scene as “coma in a bottle” – led to the death of former Debenham High School pupil Seth Saunders.

Mrs O’Connor is now eager to raise awareness of the deadly hazards of taking GBL – a solvent found in substances such as cleaning products, nail polish, and superglue removers. Although she said it was hard to see the 24-year-old’s potential go to waste, Mrs O’Connor added: “If his death can help any other family, it will count for something”.

Mr Saunders – who was brought up in Stonham Aspal and had also lived in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, for a short time – died on May 5.

He had taken an overdose of GBL (gamma butyrolactone), which also goes by the names G and liquid ecstasy.

An inquest in Huntingdon heard that despite trying to seek help for his dependence, Mr Saunders struggled to find a doctor or counsellor with enough knowledge of GBL to provide effective support.

Deputy coroner for South and West Cambridgeshire Belinda Cheney was told that Mr Saunders became addicted to the drug after leaving Northgate High School sixth form to study building surveying at Brighton University.

By his third year of studies he was struggling with a crippling addiction and returned to his mother’s home in Huntingdon, where he later died.

Mrs O’Connor told the inquest that, before his death, she was concerned that her son was suffering from depression, but he repeatedly refused to seek help.

At Easter she became so concerned she took him to an out-of-hours GP service. He was prescribed with anti-depressant medication and urged to register with a GP.

Mrs O’Connor described witnessing her son’s paranoia and anxiety and said at times he was manic and even psychotic, but put his behaviour down to depression.

She was unaware that he was using illegal substances.

When Mr Saunders did see addiction counsellors in 2009, they knew little about GBL and appeared to think he did not have any major problems.

Mrs O’Connor, a nurse, found her son unresponsive in bed when she returned home from a night shift at 2pm.

She said: “I want to raise awareness of the dangers of this drug. I want other families to be spared the pain and suffering we are going through.”

She found a suicide note in his briefcase the day after his death.

Mrs O’Connor added: “I really would like to think that there will be more help for these kids (addicted to GBL) now. These kids die.”

Mr Saunders’ brother and sister, Eli and Gaia, helped to look after him while he tried to quit GBL.

Eli said: “He really, really struggled. It was incredibly hard for him. He couldn’t find anyone to help him.”

Mrs Cheney recorded a finding that Mr Saunders took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.

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