Channel 4 executive overdosed on morphine at her Hampstead home

16:18 24 May 2012

Sarah Mulvey. Picture by Central News

Sarah Mulvey. Picture by Central News


A talented Channel 4 executive haunted by terrifying flashbacks of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child killed herself by overdosing on morphine in her Hampstead flat.

Sarah Mulvey, 34, who commissioned big rating hitters including How to Look Good Naked, began self harming when she was eight by sticking needles into her fingers.

St. Pancras Coroners Court heard how Ms Mulvey slid into a deep depression and was signed off work in 2009 after falling out with her managers over claims she had been bullied.

In the months preceding her death in January 2010, she had been enduring flashbacks which lasted up to 17 hours, and had begun self harming again by searing her leg with cigarettes.

Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: “Her work was such an important part of her life. It was her life. It identified the person she was.

“A fear of losing that would be something that would lead to a breakdown.”

Ms Mulvey had sought help from a plethora of psychiatrists and spent four months at the Causeway Retreat in Essex, but the treatment only brought out her problems further.

The court was told how Ms Mulvey checked into the Drayton Park Crisis centre in Islington, run by Camden and Islington Foundation, in January 2010.

But she stormed out of the centre following a blazing row and died from a massive opiates overdose the following day.

Her father criticised the centre for not immediately alerting her GP to the argument.

But doctors insisted that while she had spoken of a ‘three year suicide plan’ they did not believe she had a concrete plan to kill herself.

Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said that by ‘compartmentalising’ the different therapies she was receiving and insisting her therapists maintain ‘extreme confidentiality regarding her medical history’, Ms Mulvey made it difficult to assess her.

She said: “The overwhelming tragic aspect was this sensitivity to abandonment or rejection.

“She wanted to say I’m leaving, but allowing her to do so made her feel rejected. There was a childlike element. She wanted people to run after her and say don’t go.

“She was having help from psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists. This was consultant level. This was not a matter of junior doctors in an NHS clinic seeing her.

“But it was never enough.”

Ms Mulvey left three suicide notes in her flat in Well Walk, but her family told the court they had never been told of them.

She was discovered dead on January 28 having taken a massive overdose of opiates.

Dr Radcliffe returned a narrative verdict but said she was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Ms Mulvey killed herself.

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