‘Girl with the smile’, 22, found dead at playground morning after party

A social work student killed herself after leaving a party early and texting a friend "see you soon in heaven".

Erin Donald, 22, was described by her grieving mum as "the girl with the smile" following an inquest into her death on Thursday.

The passionate social campaigner and volunteer was found dead by a dog walker in the early hours of May 29 last year at Springfield Park in Knotty Ash, Liverpool.

An inquest at Gerard Majella Courthouse, Kirkdale, on Thursday recorded a conclusion of death by suicide, the ECHO reports.

The court heard Erin was found dead by a children's climbing frame at 6.37am, and a police investigation established there were no suspicious circumstances.

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Andre Rebello, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral, told the inquest: "Erin had a history of anxiety and depressive illness and there was some previous self harm, including a previous overdose. She was open to mental health services.

"On May 28, she attended a house party with her friend, a male. She was in a good mood, accounts given state that she was socialising normally and alcohol was taken.

"Witnesses state that cocaine was also taken. At about 1.45am the boy realised that Erin had left without alerting anyone.

"There was an exchange of texts and they arranged to meet in nearby residential streets. He saw her about 2am.

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"Around 20 minutes later a text was received from Erin saying 'see you soon in heaven'. He frantically tried to call but she ended the call.

"He tried to contact Erin's family but there was no response. He said he had received similar texts previously and was not immediately concerned for her welfare."

Mr Rebello said while there was no evidence of what was going through Erin's mind, the effects of cocaine, particularly when combined with alcohol, may have "altered her thinking".

He went on: "Cocaine is a very dangerous drug, there's not really any medicinal use at all.

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"People take it for a euphoric feeling because it is an upper, but when you take something that raises your mood it can also get rid of your inhibitions."

The Liverpool Hope University student had been a keen volunteer work with substance abuse and addiction services.

Erin had also been awaiting a diagnosis for possible Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), the court heard.

Her mum Jane Donald, speaking after the hearing, told the ECHO her daughter had been passionate about social issues and had volunteered at a number of organisations while studying, including Addaction and the Brook.

She said: "Everything was about helping people. When she was talking about her volunteering and her work she was so passionate.

"But to us she was just Erin, always smiling. She was the girl with the smile. But there are so many people suffering from mental health now, it is rife."

Ms Donald, who attended the inquest with her daughter, and Erin's sister, Eva Donald, said Erin had suffered with her mental health since around 15.

She said: "But we will remember her as always helping others, the girl with the smile."

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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