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Ex-regional journalist took her own life aged 59 after death of pet

Jessica BerensA former regional journalist who went on to interview Holywood stars took her own life two days after her pet dog’s death, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest heard Jessica Berens, 59, had suffered the loss of her Jack Russell terrier, which died in her arms after being run over by a postman, before she herself was found dead in her home.

Jessica, pictured, had suffered from depression from her early 20s, Exeter Coroner’s Court was told.

She had begun her career as a trainee reporter on the Slough & Windsor Express, later moving on to Fleet Street and then New York, where she worked for titles including Vanity Fair.

Over the years she interviewed a number of Hollywood stars including actors Rob Lowe, Mel Gibson and Martin Sheen.

More recently she had worked as a writer-in-residence at Dartmoor Prison and published a book about her experiences in 2016 entitled Short Sentence: Three Years in Dartmoor Prison.

According to Devon Live, the inquest heard Jessica had passed away at her home in Puddington, near Tiverton, on 27 March last year.

Family members and friends o told the hearing how she had never expressed to them any intention of wanting to harm herself or take her own life, but was known to use medication to control her “terrible” headaches.

No suicide note or documents were found to confirm she had intended to take her life, but coroner Philip Spinney said he been provided with a box from the family which belonged to her.

It contained various documents including a do not resuscitate certificate, leaflets promoting end of life choice, notebooks about assisted dying and suicides, and a proposal about a book she had been writing on assisted dying.

A post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of death was having taken a toxic level of a drug which is no longer available on prescription in the UK.

Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner said it was clear from the evidence that Miss Berens had a “great deal of knowledge” on the subject of suicide and assisted suicide.

He added: “It is not clear where the drugs originated from and whether she purchased them or had them historically.

“It is possible she had taken the drug to help her sleep or for some other purpose. However, it is plain she administered an excessive amount of the drug that caused her death.

“She was aware it related to suicide and the probable effect of taking it through her research of many years.

“On balance, it is probable that Jessica took the drug that was responsible for ending her life, and it was her intention to end her life.”