The mother of a “well-loved” and popular highly dedicated life-saving paramedic who took her own life, has claimed that her daughter would still be alive today if it weren’t for a photo of her daughter in her uniform that was uploaded to social media with claims she had been ‘littering.’
Charlotte Cope, from Gelli, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, was found dead at her family home in April 2020.
The 23-year-old paramedic – who served with the Welsh Ambulance Service for two years – suffered from an eating disorder and anxiety.
An inquest into Charlotte’s death at Pontypridd Coroner’s Court on Tuesday 21st December heard how Charlotte loved working as a paramedic and told family that this was her “comfort”.
Charlotte’s mother, Heidi Cope, said:
“Charlotte returned home after university in 2018 and started working at the Welsh Ambulance Service.
“She loved her job and said she loved going to work and saving people.”
Her father, Roger Cope, said:
“As a family, we were very close and would spend time together.
“We used to go running together and take part in running events.
“In lockdown, I helped her set up a gym in the house so she could continue training.”
The day before Charlotte took her own life, photos of her in her uniform were uploaded to social media by a member of the public claiming she had been littering.
The photo in question showed fast-food wrappings and regurgitated food next to Charlotte’s car. She had stopped whilst travelling to work where she would begin her 12-hour shift, responding to 999 calls.
Charlotte’s family say this Facebook post would have humiliated Charlotte, who was struggling with her eating disorder.
When she arrived at work, Charlotte was told by her line manager at Gelli ambulance station that her picture had been uploaded to social media and was being shared.
By the time she woke up the following day, Charlotte’s family claimed that social media users had shared the picture hundreds of times.
Abusive and vile messages had been left in the post’s comments section, which Charlotte saw.
“I believe she would be here today if it wasn’t for that post,” Heidi said, following the hearing at South Wales Central Coroner’s Court in Pontypridd.
“That day she woke up to find the post had been shared hundreds of times and the messages being written about her were vile and she was too embarrassed.”
Charlotte was found dead by her mother in her bedroom at about 20:30 hours on 13 April.
She had watched part of a film with her parents before returning to her bedroom to sleep after her night shift the previous night
Paramedics who responded to the 999 call were colleagues and friends of Charlotte, and in statements read out at the hearing, said how “shocked” they were and described her as “popular and well-loved”.
In a post shared on her Instagram page on 4th April, nine days before Charlotte tragically took her own life, she said:
‘Life sucks right now ey. I miss my family. I miss weightlifting/training, I miss the freedom.
‘But have to stay positive, dedicating all my time on the ambulance to help others in need at this time with my amazing colleagues.
‘Stay safe everyone, please stay at home’.
Messages left on Charlotte’s phone said she wanted the “horrendous” and “disturbing” thoughts in her head to stop, repeatedly said she was sorry, and thanked her colleagues for all the memories they shared.
Speaking after the inquest conclusion, Charlotte’s family said:
“People should think before they post pictures or comments on social media. In our mind, Facebook contributed to Charlotte’s death.
“She had just bought a brand new Mini. She had booked tickets for shows and was planning a girls holiday. She wanted for nothing.
“She loved work and said that was her comfort. She really had three joys in her life: work, family, and the gym.”
Assistant coroner Rachel Knight said:
“Charlotte had a complex history including a longstanding eating disorder, depression and anxiety, and was further upset by a post on social media that likely caused her to be embarrassed.”
Recording the cause of death as suicide, Ms Knight said to the family: “I want to say how truly sorry I am for the loss of Charlotte.
“It is obvious to me how much you loved her, and how much she is missed.”
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email email@example.com.
Mental Health Charity’ Mind’ also operates a mental health helpline for members of the emergency services.
To make contact with a member of their team, call 0300 123 3393.
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