Bristol mother fights to reclassify drug that destroyed her son
A grieving mother has called for the tranquilliser ketamine to be reclassified as a class A drug after watching it destroy her son's life.
Caleb Morris took his life a month ago, and his mother Shielmor Twomey blames his addiction to the class C drug – a horse tranquilliser – for the decline in his mental health.
The 28-year-old, known as 'K' to his friends, had turned to the drug in an effort to deal with the frustration he felt because of his battle with epilepsy.
Ms Twomey, a retired telephonist who lives in Henbury, said: "Make no mistake – ketamine destroys lives. It wreaked havoc with Caleb's mental state. It had got a hold of him, he was having terrible mood swings. He was usually such a lovely guy.
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"Bristol has a ketamine problem and it needs to be addressed. I do not want Caleb to have died in vain – I will campaign to make it a class A drug."
Ketamine is an anaesthetic with powerful hallucinogenic qualities, but can cause panic attacks, depression, and if taken in large doses can exacerbate mental health problems.
Mr Morris, who had lived at home with his mother for the past year, plunged to his death from the Clifton Suspension Bridge on January 28, but his body was only recovered last Friday. He had left a suicide note.
At the age of 16, Mr Morris started having epileptic fits, and during his lifetime was only able to hold down three jobs for short periods, as a chef, a security guard and at a butcher.
Ms Twomey said: "He lost his jobs. He lost his girlfriend – all because of the epilepsy. He kept coming up against this brick wall.
"He was so embarrassed to be epileptic, he didn't tell many of his friends. He wanted to be a normal man, be the breadwinner, have a girlfriend. It was his frustration with it that drove him to start taking ketamine about two years ago.
"He did not think he had a problem, and I didn't feel like I could get involved because he was too old. I tried to give him advice, but it fell on deaf ears."
She had discovered he was taking the drug when she noticed powder on his nose.
"The drug started to undermine his epilepsy drugs, and he had more seizures," Ms Twomey said.
Mr Morris was with Hannah Saaf, the woman who killed an 11-year-old boy when her car mounted the pavement at high speed in May last year, the night before the accident and his evidence was mentioned in court in December when she was ordered by a judge to be detained in hospital indefinitely. But Ms Twomey said the incident was not linked to his son's actions last month.
She paid tribute to her son, who she described as a "peaceful guy" who had lots of friends and was well-known on Bristol's club scene.
He loved travelling, especially to the Caribbean where his father lives. He leaves behind two half-sisters living in Bristol, Jade and Sabree.
Ms Twomey said: "He was the best son a mother could ask for, he was very kind-hearted, always buying me presents and flowers. I am broken without him, we were so close."
A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset police said: "Police can confirm the body of a 28-year-old man was recovered from the water near Shirehampton on Friday, February 26.
"It is believed to be the body of a man who fell from the Clifton Suspension Bridge on January 28.
"Extensive searches of the River Avon were carried out by police, fire, ambulance, helicopter and coastguard with no result. Every effort was made by Avon and Somerset police and our counterparts to locate the body and searches continued when tides and weather conditions permitted.
"Our counterparts in Devon and Cornwall, South Wales and Gwent Police were also alerted, along with the Coastguard and Port Police.
"Specialist advice from search teams was also obtained in a bid to try and locate the body.
"The body retrieved from the water last Friday has now been referred to the coroner and the death is not being treated as suspicious."
As part of last year's Tackling Drugs Week, it was revealed that the number of problematic users of cocaine and heroin had dropped, but that the new threat was from ketamine.
Safer Bristol director Alison Comley warned that ketamine was fast becoming a popular drug in some parts of the city among young people.
Last month 21-year-old Thomas Pullen admitted to assaulting a police officer while under the influence of the drug when he appeared before Bristol magistrates.
Pullen, of Belvedere Road, Redland, ripped handfuls of the officer's hair out after taking the drug for the first time at Halloween.
● Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have given warning signs beforehand. These can include becoming depressed or withdrawn, showing sudden changes in behaviour or mood, talking about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness.
If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 day or night.