Sophie Gradon died at the age of 32.
Sophie Gradon died at the age of 32.

Reality star’s desperate final texts

British Love Island star Sophie Gradon told her friend "if I could escape I would" on Instagram just hours before she took her own life.

An inquest today revealed the 32-year-old was battling depression when she ended her life while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, The Sun reports.

Her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong performed CPR on her for 15 minutes but was unable to save her.

North Shields Coroners Court heard how Sophie, crowned Miss Newcastle and Miss Great Britain in 2009, had been mourning the recent death of close friend Paul Burns at the time of her death.

'I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE'

The UK star was a popular Love Island contestant. Picture: Instagram
The UK star was a popular Love Island contestant. Picture: Instagram

She exchanged a series of Instagram messages with friend Sondeep Gill before the pair spoke for nearly an hour on the phone in the early hours of June 20 last year.

Sophie said Paul "had been there for so many people and he had stopped her from taking her own life".

"I cannot do this any more I struggle every day with my ADD (attention deficit disorder)," she told Sondeep.

"I would never want to do that to my family but if I could escape I would. I cannot believe I am telling you this.

"I have been struggling with the world; no one knows why or how."

The phone suddenly went dead at 2.40am, and Sondeep's messages went unanswered after that point.

"Her speech was slurred, she was repeating herself a lot and during the conversation I was worried she sounded down so I tried to keep the conversation light and told her she should go to bed," Sondeep told police.

The court heard Sophie had been prescribed the anti-depression drug Sertraline in 2013 - and that the drug was found in her system along with the alcohol and cocaine.

Toxicology tests showed she had a blood-alcohol reading of 201mg per 100ml of blood, about three times the legal driving limit, and she also tested positive for cocaine.

Aaron, 25, went on to take his own life five days after her funeral, a separate inquest was told last month.

Sophie Gradon and boyfriend Aaron Armstrong. Picture: Instagram
Sophie Gradon and boyfriend Aaron Armstrong. Picture: Instagram

HEARTBREAK

Aaron and Sophie also exchanged texts the day before her death that were "very general and loving in nature" while both were at home looking after their respective parents' dogs.

But when he couldn't contact Sophie the next day, Aaron became so worried he called his brother Ryan and the pair went together to her home in the village of Medburn near Newcastle, arriving about 7pm.

At first they threw stones up to Sophie's bedroom window to get her attention, before Aaron peered through the living room window and saw his girlfriend was unconscious.

The brothers smashed their way in through a door before Aaron began performing CPR.

He continued for 15 minutes while Ryan spoke to the ambulance service, until it became clear Sophie was dead.

LETHAL COCKTAIL

The reality star’s death shocked Love Island fans. Picture: Instagram
The reality star’s death shocked Love Island fans. Picture: Instagram

Coroner Eric Armstrong issued a stark warning from the North Shields court, citing research in the US that said mixing drink and drugs made people 16 times more likely to take their own lives.

He said he was "certain she would not have acted as she did without taking alcohol and cocaine".

"The combination is used by those who believe it brings on a so-called high much quicker," he told the court.

"What they do not appreciate is it also gives rise to violent thoughts.

"If Sophie's death is to serve any purpose at all, that message must go out far and wide."

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Armstrong said he could not be sure it was suicide, but ruled out any third party involvement.

He earlier described Aaron's thinking at the time of his death as "muddled by the distress of Sophie's death, the distress at having found her".

His devastated mum, Donna Armstrong, described their relationship as "very intense and emotional".

INQUEST DELAYED

Sophie’s death was followed this year by the death of a male Love Island contestant, prompting questions about after-care on the show. Picture: Instagram
Sophie’s death was followed this year by the death of a male Love Island contestant, prompting questions about after-care on the show. Picture: Instagram

The inquest was dramatically halted from its planned start on March 21 so Sophie's parents could read a new report into her death.

At the time an official was quoted saying: "Please note that it has been necessary to cancel the hearing date for the inquest dealing with the death of Sophie Gradon.

"Sophie's parents have requested further time to consider a report which was only recently received."

Sources close to the family said they believed there was "nothing to support" the suicide theory, the Daily Mail reported.

Her parents were not present for the hearing.

Fellow Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis was also found dead last month, prompting calls from UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock for reality shows to do more for competitors once they have become famous.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished with permission

For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line, as well as online resources on a range of issues affect both men and women. Call 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.


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