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Jessica Linehan hanged herself at Southborough home after eight-year battle to see children

By Ed McConnell

The tragic story of a mother-of-two who hanged herself after an eight-year battle to see her children has been revealed by her mother.

Jessica Linehan was found near death on the stairs of her father’s Southborough home in November. She was rushed to Tunbridge Wells Hospital where she died the following day.

The 36-year-old recovering heroin addict, who moved to Zambia from Tunbridge Wells when she was seven, left no suicide note but had bought Christmas presents for her children, Ashiana, 11, and nine-year-old Daniel, who her mother Caroline revealed she had spent the final years of her life fighting to see.

Jessica Linehan with Daniel (left) and Ashiana

Jessica Linehan with Daniel (left) and Ashiana

By 2010 Miss Linehan was suffering from severe depression due to her restricted access to her children.

She had been fighting her ex-husband, a lawyer in the African country, for more time with her children since their divorce in 2007.

Her mother said: "Jess had a complete breakdown in 2010. I found her at her house in Zambia sitting in the sunshine with a penknife self-harming.

"I managed to get her into a hospital which had no psychiatric unit and went online to find a clinic in England that could treat her for severe depression.

"She went to Pathways in Maidstone who ascertained she was not an addict. She used when she couldn't cope with losing her children."

Jessica Linehan killed herself in November

Jessica Linehan killed herself in November

While at the clinic she started a relationship with a heroin addict who introduced her to the drug.

Her mother added: "She was an amazing mother who lived for her children and through no fault of her own was not allowed to be that person. Her relationship in England was very abusive but she felt she needed to be punished as she did not have her kids."

Charles Street, Southborough, where Jessica Linehan was found. Picture Google Maps

Charles Street, Southborough, where Jessica Linehan was found. Picture: Google Maps

In July Miss Linehan travelled to Africa to see her children for the final time. She had left her boyfriend, was on medication and seemed to be making good progress.

Two months later her mother visited her. She was receiving therapy and was upbeat and plans were made for her to see her children at Christmas.

However, an agreement could not be reached with her ex-husband and when her mother spoke to her in November she was resigned to spending another Christmas alone. The following day she hanged herself.

Jessica (back left) and her family in Zambia

Jessica (back left) and her family in Zambia

Mrs Linehan said: "Her mental health deteriorated each time she had to leave the children. She was self-harming and had taken an overdose. She couldn’t see a life without them in it."

At an inquest at Gravesend Old Town Hall last month, coroner Roger Hatch recorded a verdict of suicide.

If you know someone who's feeling the pressure, get them to call 0800 107 0160 or visit www.releasethepressure.uk

Support is free and confidential, provided by an independent charity and funded by Kent County Council.

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