“Don’t end up like my daughter”: heartbroken mum of girl who died of paracetamol overdose slams dangerous online craze
The heartbroken mum of a girl who died from a paracetamol overdose has slammed a new dangerous online trend to take the painkiller.
Mandy and Peter Yousaf were devastated after their Charlotte died in 2011 after taking too many of the over-the counter pills following a split from her partner.
Despite making herself sick, the damage the 19-year-old had done to her liver was irreversible and she passed away at the Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Devastated Mandy, from Halifax, West Yorks, has spoken out against the Paracetamol Challenge – a new online trend where young people are encouraged to take a large quantity of the drug.
The trend emerged after a teenager in Ayrshire was hospitalised after it is believed he took part, prompting his secondary school and police to issue warnings to children and parents.
Mandy, 48, said: “Charlotte was here on the Monday, and by Friday she was gone.
“Now you see teenagers egging each other on, and it’s a peer pressure thing where they clearly don’t know what they’re doing.
“The problem is, paracetamol is so cheap and so easily accessible.
“She had fallen out with her boyfriend and it must have been a plea for attention, clearly not realising how serious taking the pills was.
“She had just moved in with her boyfriend and I think it was too much too soon.
“She was only young and they had been together a year.”
Charlotte – who was studying law at university at the time of her death – died just three days before her mum and dad were due to get married.
Mandy thinks there should be more done to warn kids about the dangers of paracetamol and greater awareness of the symptoms.
She said: “It is not just teenagers we need to tell about this – it’s teachers. It’s parents. Everyone.
“Charlotte was such a clever girl.
“Doctors said if she had got to the hospital sooner she could have lived. She may have needed a transplant, but she could have lived.
“She rang me on the Monday before her death saying that she had been sick because she had taken too many paracetamol tablets.
“We’d had a disagreement and she’d been out drinking the night before, so she was basically ringing me to tell me that she was OK.
“She did have an addictive personality, but she wasn’t much of a drinker which makes all of this even more of a shame.
“I was supposed to marry Peter, my partner of 27 years, three days after her death. We got married in April the following year instead and it was a private ceremony.”
Paracetamol is one of the world’s most widely used drugs and packs of the painkiller which many deem as harmless can be bought for less than £1 without a prescription.
However, in large quantities it can cause a number of serious side-affects, including fatal liver failure.
Alan Ward, head of schools at East Ayrshire Council, warned that young people are “daring each other” to take “excessive amounts” of paracetamol via social media.
He said: “We have been communicating with parents, encouraging them to monitor their child’s safety on social media.
“We are urging parents to talk to their children about the potential dangers of taking paracetamol, and to discourage their children from engaging in any online activity in support of this dangerous craze.”
Since the issue came to light, the hashtag has been hijacked by outraged users warning just how dangerous the drug can be.
Some have had personal experiences of the danger it poses, with one writing ‘my sister died from taking too much paracetamol – kids don’t do it’.
Another wrote of her personal experience, posting on Twitter ‘I have liver damage at 18 years old from paracetamol overdoses, the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. DO NOT DO IT.’
NHS England says that signs of an overdose can include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, and advises people seek treatment if they experience these symptoms.
Other symptoms include sickness, bleeding, and in extreme cases, liver and kidney failure that can lead to death.