Ex-drug addict turned high-flier commits suicide

Shirley Jensen: Took her own life after struggling with stress. Picture: Cavendish
Shirley Jensen: Took her own life after struggling with stress. Picture: Cavendish
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A SCOT who beat drug addiction to get a university education and a job as a manager hanged herself as she struggled with the stress of changing jobs and moving house after breaking up from her long-term ­boyfriend.

Shirley Jensen, 41, had turned her life around after getting caught up in the Scottish drugs scene when she was 18 and ­obtained a first-class honours degree before being hailed as “an inspirational leader” by colleagues at an auction house.

But the teetotal charity fund­raiser who used her past experiences to work with Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, found herself unable to cope after she had to switch jobs, as well as splitting up with her boyfriend of five years and moving to a flat on her own.

The keen traveller, who completed a half-marathon in Marra­kech and a Manchester 10k to raise money for charity, told her company director mother: “Three of the most stressful things that can happen to a person have happened to me at the same time – I’ve ended a relationship, started a new job and moved house.”

She secured a job at a property company but when she failed to turn up for work last September, her boss called police, saying she was “far too professional not to ring in”. Officers later broke into her home near Stockport, Greater Manchester, where they found her body and a note which read: “I’m sorry.”

Nearby was a book entitled ­Letting Go, that contained advice on relationships ­following a separation.

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An inquest at Stockport Coroner’s Court was told Miss Jensen, formerly from Aberdeen, had developed her drug habit after falling in with the wrong crowd at school and was jailed in 1992 for six months for possession of class-A drugs.

But when she was released after serving half her sentence, she vowed to get her life back on track. She became teetotal at 20 and returned to college to further her career and help others.

She moved to Manchester, got a job as a PA and enrolled at the Metropolitan University where she graduated in sociology with information and communications. She then went on a management training course before working for her mother’s company, which went out of business last July. The end of her relationship with her boyfriend forced her to find a flat alone.

Her mother Winifred Barber, 63, told the hearing: “[Her drugs conviction] ­hindered her. She wanted to be a mentor at a high school but they wouldn’t let her. As far as we were aware, she hadn’t touched alcohol or drugs since she was 20 years old.

“She attended NA and AA and helped other women to get over their experience of drugs and alcohol. Despite her problem with her record, she was always in regular employment or studying. She was never idle.”

Miss Jensen’s GP, Dr Robert Mathewson, was in contact with her from 1987. He said she was referred to an alcohol team in 1995, had a relapse in 1999 and suffered depression. However, he said, she was reluctant to take antidepressants.

Coroner John Pollard recorded a verdict of suicide.

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