A SUPPORT worker and former teacher was “an inspirational person” who worked hard to help others with mental health conditions.

Lisa Copeland was found dead at her home in Sheppard Way, Portslade, on Friday, February 21.

The 49-year-old, who suffered from depression and emotionally unstable personality disorder, was due to attend an appointment with an occupational therapist that day.

At an inquest into her death on Thursday, the court heard the patient transport service arrived at about 3pm on February 21 to collect her but she did not answer the door. Instead her lodger Jade Bridges answered and went to find her but on entering her room found her unresponsive.

Ms Bridges, a student paramedic, rushed to call an ambulance and paramedics were at the scene by 3.19pm, but Ms Copeland was pronounced dead at 3.41pm.

Coroner’s officer Claire Rogers said an empty packet of medication was found in her room.

Senior coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley told the hearing in Brighton: “In my experience as a coroner of people suffering with personality disorders, I believe it must be one of the most difficult conditions to live with and manage.

“I don’t think we fully understand it yet and I don’t think we’re fully aware of the best way to deal with it.”

The coroner concluded Ms Copeland had intended to take her own life and she died from a lethal dose of an antipsychotic drug, which caused her to aspirate in her sleep.

The Argus: Lisa Copeland Lisa Copeland

Her family described her as “creative, erudite, funny and caring”, while her lodger Ms Bridges said she was “an inspiration” to those she supported through volunteering at Mill View Hospital and for Brighton Housing Trust.

Ms Copeland grew up in Eastbourne and became a nurse after she left school.

She later studied at the University of Sussex while working as a nurse and achieved a degree in English before starting a new career as a primary teacher.

Her younger sister Clare said: “Sadly Lisa eventually had to give up teaching due to ill health. When her mental health challenges were most debilitating, her amazing creativity really helped her get through the worst.

“Despite her mental health issues she had a great interest in helping others like herself, feeling that her own experiences gave her greater empathy with them.”

Lisa was recognised as an NHS Expert by Experience, helping colleagues to understand people’s experience of care, and providing ideas to improve the experience of service users and their carers.

Last year she was double nominated for an NHS People First Shining Star award for her work at Mill View Hospital.

Her sister Clare added: “The Lisa we knew and will always love and remember was a thoughtful, considerate, generous and caring person who, throughout her life, really wanted to do her best to help and support those around her.”

If you have been affected by this story, the Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call 116 123 for free or visit www.samaritans.org to find out about support available.