Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Homesick scientist's tragic death

Young, talented New Zealander went to Britain to work on research projects that would benefit others.

Isobel Maxwell-Cameron had a history of depression.
Isobel Maxwell-Cameron had a history of depression.

A "young, talented, intelligent" woman who moved from New Zealand to Britain to pursue her promising chemistry career committed suicide after suffering severe loneliness and homesickness, an inquest has heard.

A coroner described the death of University of Otago graduate Dr Isobel Maxwell-Cameron as a "tragedy of utmost proportion".

The 25-year-old former Epsom Girls' Grammar School pupil took up an organic chemistry research post at the University of Manchester last October, the Daily Mail reported.

But she struggled with what she saw as failure of her laboratory experiments, and became disillusioned with her career.

The paper reported that she made a failed suicide attempt on January 6, and police found her body in her Manchester flat on Saturday, January 11, after the alarm was raised by her mother in Auckland.

An inquest in Bolton was read a statement from her mother, Priscilla Cameron, the Daily Mail reported.

Mrs Cameron said her daughter, who had a history of depression, had wanted to return home after struggling with work and the death of her grandfather.

"She was passionate about science. When she got the job in England she was so anxious about moving from a small city to a large city on the other side of the world," Mrs Cameron said.

"But she was very outgoing and friendly and expecting to make new friends. She managed her depression by always having a hobby outside of study."

Dr Maxwell-Cameron, who graduated from the University of Otago in 2010 with a first-class chemistry bachelor of science degree, enjoyed karate, rowing, acrobatics and fire dancing.

Her mother told the inquest her daughter had been alone at Christmas, and she seemed a bit low.

On January 6, Isobel phoned her mother to say she had tried to take her own life.

"She said she was feeling the worst she had ever felt," her mother told the inquest.

After speaking to her mother, Isobel saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed anti-depressants.

Mrs Cameron tried calling and texting her daughter and when she got no reply, she phoned local police.

"I regret not encouraging her to come home and not calling her on Saturday night," the Mail reported Mrs Cameron as telling the inquest.

Manchester West Coroner Alan Walsh said he found Dr Maxwell-Cameron's death "to be an enormous tragedy".

"A young, talented, intelligent, vibrant young lady who came to England from New Zealand believing she was going to further her education by contributing in terms of research to projects that might benefit others," he said. "It is a tragedy of utmost proportion."

Otago University's Professor David Larsen, who supervised Dr Maxwell-Cameron's PhD work on the chemical synthesis of molecules, was devastated by the news.

"We were all shocked and deeply saddened by the events earlier this year and it has affected a lot of people," he said.

Where to get help

*Lifeline: 0800 543 534
*Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865
*Youthline: 0800 376 633
*Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
*Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
*Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (24-hour service)
*Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
*CASPER Suicide Prevention

- APNZ

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