Devastated mum found dead just weeks after daughter, 19, took her own life

Ellen Manning
·3 min read
Mother Daughter death
Rhianne Halton and her mother Jeanette Whittle died within weeks of each other. (Reach)

Tributes have been paid to a mother and her teenage daughter who both died suddenly within weeks of each other.

Rhianne Halton, 19, had given birth to her second child just six weeks before she tragically ended her life at her home in Torquay on 10 May, 2020.

After her death, her grieving mum Jeanette Whittle, 44, died from a fatal overdose 19 days later on 29 May, 2020 after already an earlier overdose on 20 May. 

A double funeral was held for the mother and daughter whose grieving relatives said they then had to endure the heartbreak of sitting through separate inquests into their deaths.

The mother and daughter had a double funeral. (Reach)
The mother and daughter had a double funeral. (Reach)

An inquest in Plymouth heard Halton had a long history of mental health problems due to a ‘difficult childhood’ which saw her being raised by her grandparents and bullied at school over her mother's drug addiction. 

On the morning of her death she had argued with her partner, who found her when he got back to their home along with a suicide note for her boys saying she loved them, adding "daddy will look after you".

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The inquest heard she had given birth to her second son during lockdown and postnatal services had been significantly impacted by the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown which meant face-to-face after birth visits could not be carried out.

However, a review found they would not have been able to prevent her death.

After her death, her mother suffered an overdose on 20 May, followed by a fatal one on 29 May, 2020.

Rhianne Halton had given birth to her second son during lockdown. (Reach)
Rhianne Halton (Reach)

Paying tribute to Halton afterwards, her grandmother Barbara Whittle said: “She was lovely and loved to have a laugh, but sadly she did suffer from mental health issues which started when she was at school. Although she had a few problems she was always happy.

"Her death was a complete shock. I knew she had post-natal depression but she wouldn’t let me take her to the doctors because she was worried her children would be taken away from her."

Barbara Whittle described her daughter Jeanette as wonderful, "even when she was into drugs", saying: "She got in with a bad crowd and had tried to come off the drugs but couldn’t in the end.

"She did have some lovely friends and she really did love Rhianne, but she just couldn’t look after her.

"After Rhianne’s death she was devastated. She had been trying to get off the drugs again, and wanted to for her grandchildren."

Barbara Whittle said she didn't know if her daughter's overdose was intentional, adding: "I like to think it might have been an accident.

“Their deaths so close to each other has been very, very upsetting. Every day that sadness is there.”

Jeanette Whittle had a history of drug problems, an inquest heard. (Reach)
Jeanette Whittle had a history of drug problems, an inquest heard. (Reach)

Recording a conclusion of suicide for Halton, assistant coroner Stephen Covell said: “I don't find any deficiencies or failings by health services or anyone that would have had any material effect on the day Rhianne took her life.

“The deceased intended to take her life. She suffered mental health problems, attributable to childhood trauma, and was in acute distress due to relationship difficulties.”

The inquest heard a post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of Jeanette Whittle's death was mixed drug toxicity after taking potentially fatal levels of cocaine, heroin and methadone.

Recording a conclusion of drug related death, Covell said: "She probably knew it was quite a significant quantity of drugs. She may have wanted to blot out the memory and stress of her daughter’s suicide, and the events on 20 May seemed to be a rehearsal for that.

“To go as far as saying intended to take her life, I am not persuaded by that."

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