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Ashford teenager Anna Gratzkowski took fatal drug overdose, inquest hears

An "inspirational" teenager with a "beautiful smile and boundless energy" died after taking a fatal drug overdose, an inquest has heard.

The body of Anna Gratzkowski, 19, was found under a railway bridge in Ashford in August following a week-long missing person appeal.

Anna Gratzkowski giving a speech at a Norton Knatchbull event in 2019
Anna Gratzkowski giving a speech at a Norton Knatchbull event in 2019

An inquest into her death held at County Hall in Maidstone today heard the teenager, who worked as a customer service advisor, had been battling mental health issues for some time.

In a written report to the coroner, investigating officer DS Wayne Shepherd said Miss Gratzkowski's mother had reported her missing on the evening of Saturday, August 8.

Following a lengthy search by emergency services, a walker spotted what appeared to be a person lying underneath a railway bridge the following Saturday, about half a mile away from Great Chart Cricket Club, which was the nearest landmark.

When officers examined the body, they found a handbag nearby with several diaries and a large number of packets of different medication.

Many of the packets were empty or only had one or two pills remaining.

Anna Gratzkowski had attended Norton Knatchbull in Ashford
Anna Gratzkowski had attended Norton Knatchbull in Ashford

As there were no signs of external injury, officers ruled out any suspicious circumstances or third party involvement.

Coroner Katrina Hepburn said the contents of the diaries, which were not read out in court due to their private nature, pointed to the tragic incident being purposeful.

"There are entries here from before the incident that detail exactly what Anna wanted to do and where," she said.

"I find that when she did it, she knew the consequences of taking this amount and mix of medications, and via the notes that she left, she intended to end her life by doing this."

The evidence led Ms Hepburn to declare Miss Gratzkowski's death as suicide.

'She was intelligent, polite, conversed easily with all ages'

"I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to Anna's family and friends for what is a tragic los of life for a very young lady," she added.

A former Folkestone School for Girls pupil, Ms Gratzkowski, who lived in the Godinton area of Ashford, had attended the Norton Knatchbull sixth form between 2017 and 2019.

Ben Greene, head teacher at the Hythe Road site, said the school was "in shock" after the news broke.

In a statement compiled by Mr Greene’s colleagues, they said she was a “charming and friendly student”, describing her fundraising efforts as an "inspiration".

“Anna threw herself wholeheartedly into sixth form life at our school from the outset, joining the LiNKS [Ladies in Norton Knatchbull School] Society to promote female student participation in sports and other activities and also to support new students,” the statement read.

Norton Knatchbull head teacher Ben Greene
Norton Knatchbull head teacher Ben Greene

“She represented the school at parents and open evenings and other formal events.

“Anna then went on to become a school prefect and deputy house captain, working with lower school students.

“Most notably she will be remembered for all her contributions to the school and wider community via her charity work for the school's Interact Club, working with the local Rotary Club.

“Her unswerving enthusiasm as participant and then president of this club ensured the success of many events and, whether it was waitressing to raise money for charity or helping to organise and staff a music event, she was always fully involved and a smiling, determined participant.

"She never sat still - especially when excited about one of her many projects and this was contagious.

“She was intelligent, polite, conversed easily with all ages and a much respected and helpful member of our sixth form student leadership team."

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time or click here to visit the website

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