Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 13:52 UK

Alexander McQueen committed suicide after taking drugs

Alexander McQueen
McQueen took two overdoses last year, which his doctor called "cries for help"

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen hanged himself after taking a mix of cocaine, tranquillisers and sleeping pills, an inquest has concluded.

He was under huge pressure from work and "overwhelmed with grief" at the loss of his mother, the court heard.

The 40-year-old's body was found at his London flat on 11 February - the eve of his mother Joyce's funeral.

"The balance of his mind was disturbed," said coroner Dr Paul Knapman, recording a suicide verdict.

Following the verdict his family said they were still coming to terms with their loss and missed him "terribly".

'Huge low'

Westminster Coroner's Court heard that McQueen had a history of depression, anxiety and insomnia, had attempted suicide before and researched killing himself on the internet prior to his death.

McQueen's psychiatrist, Dr Stephen Pereira, told the inquest that the leading designer was diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.

Usually after a show he felt a huge come-down - he felt isolated, it gave him a huge low
Psychiatrist Dr Stephen Pereira

He said the designer - who was also known as Lee - repeatedly missed appointments to discuss his condition.

"He certainly felt very pressured by his work, but it was a double-edged sword," he said.

"He felt it was the only area of his life where he felt he had achieved something.

"Usually after a show he felt a huge come-down. He felt isolated, it gave him a huge low."

Added to this was the distress he felt after losing his mother, said coroner's officer Lynda Martindill.

"He had been particularly close to his mother and following her death had become overwhelmed with grief."

Dr Pereira said McQueen "felt that was the one link that had gone from his life and there was very little to live for".

Suicide note

The designer had "killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed", Dr Knapman said.

He added: "It seems that he had a history of self-harm and, no doubt fuelled by cocaine, he resorted to desperate measures to end his life.

Alexander McQueen and his mother
McQueen's mother Joyce died days before him

"It's such a pity for a man who, from a modest start, climbed to the top of his profession only to die in such tragedy."

Dr Pereira said McQueen had attempted two drug overdoses in May and July last year which he described as "cries for help".

A toxicology report found that McQueen had taken a "substantial" amount of cocaine and sleeping pills and also a smaller amount of tranquillisers prior to his death.

He was discovered by his housekeeper, who arrived in the morning to find the doors of the flat locked and the security chain fastened.

A post-mortem examination found the two causes of death were asphyxia and hanging. The inquest earlier heard that he had left a note.

The inquest was told details of the designer's life, such as his love for deep-sea diving and for his three pet dogs.

Those who were privileged to have known Lee [Alexander] will cherish their memories of him for all their lives
Family statement

It also heard the police had found a note, scribbled onto the back of a book in McQueen's room.

It said: "Look after my dogs, sorry, I love you, Lee."

A family statement said the inquest had "obviously been very difficult for the family as we are still coming to terms with the loss of Lee in such tragic circumstances.

"Lee was a public figure and a creative genius, who possessed a generous, loving, caring nature.

"Those who were privileged to have known Lee will cherish their memories of him for all their lives.

"Lee was also a much-loved brother and son and we miss him terribly. We will continue to make every effort to keep his memory alive."

Before McQueen died he had been making final preparations for his spring collection to be unveiled in Paris.

He was named British designer of the year four times after 1996.

His close friend, fashion stylist Isabella Blow who helped launch his career, killed herself in 2007.

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