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Tragedy as charity volunteer, 22, found dead after leaving house party

A compassionate young charity volunteer known as “the girl with the smile” was found dead hours after leaving a house party.

Erin Donald, 22, was discovered in a children’s play area after sending a friend a text message saying “see you soon in heaven”.

The student from from Everton, Merseyside, was found in the early hours of the morning by a dog walker in Springfield Park, close to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Erin Donald, who was just 22, was remembered today as someone who always helped others, as her mum raised concerns about the numbers of people suffering with mental health problems.

She had texted a friend saying “see you soon in heaven” after unexpectedly leaving the party in the early hours of May 29 last year.

Erin had become known for her volunteer work with substance abuse and addiction services, an inquest heard.

Erin Donald
Erin’s mum said the family will remember her as always helping others

Andre Rebello, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral, told the inquest: “Erin had a history of anxiety and depressive illness and there was some previous self harm, including a previous overdose. She was open to mental health services.

“On May 28, she attended a house party with her friend, a male. She was in a good mood, accounts given state that she was socialising normally and alcohol was taken.

“Witnesses state that cocaine was also taken. At about 1.45am the boy realised that Erin had left without alerting anyone.

“There was an exchange of texts and they arranged to meet in nearby residential streets. He saw her about 2am.

“Around 20 minutes later a text was received from Erin saying ‘see you soon in heaven’. He frantically tried to call but she ended the call.

The student was discovered in a children's play area
The student had gone to a party the night before she died

“He tried to contact Erin’s family but there was no response. He said he had received similar texts previously and was not immediately concerned for her welfare.”

Gerard Majella Courthouse later heard Erin – a charity volunteer who often gave up her time for good causes – was found by a dog walker near a children’s climbing frame at 6.37am.

A police investigation established there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.

The coroner said that while there was no evidence of what was going through Erin’s mind, the effects of cocaine, particularly when combined with alcohol, may have “altered her thinking”.

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Mr Rebello said: “Cocaine is a very dangerous drug, there’s not really any medicinal use at all.

“People take it for a euphoric feeling because it is an upper, but when you take something that raises your mood it can also get rid of your inhibitions.

“We all have a desire to survive, but sometimes when the way we are thinking is altered by drugs or alcohol, we do things that we would never normally do without drugs or alcohol…

“You can get a euphoric feeling and then after that you can feel awful, and if you have a depressive predisposition or illness… it can enable us to do things that we may have threatened before or it may make problems feels much worse than they really are.”

The court also heard Erin had also been awaiting a diagnosis for possible Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).

Mr Rebello recorded a conclusion of death by suicide.

Erin’s mum Jane Donald, speaking after the hearing, told the Echo her daughter had been passionate about social issues and had volunteered at a number of organisations while studying, including Addaction and the Brook.

She said: “Everything was about helping people. When she was talking about her volunteering and her work she was so passionate.

“But to us she was just Erin, always smiling. She was the girl with the smile. But there are so many people suffering with mental health now, it is rife.”

Ms Donald, who attended the inquest with her daughter, and Erin’s sister, Eva Donald, said Erin had suffered with her mental health since around 15.

She said: “But we will remember her as always helping others, the girl with the smile.”

The Samaritans can be reached round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call them on the phone. You can reach them by calling 116 123, by emailing jo@samaritans.org or by visiting www.samaritans.org



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