A promising young actor who appeared in the British crime drama Luther reportedly died by apparent suicide that stemmed from the stress of being out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to DailyMail.com, Luke Westlake (above) messaged his ex-girlfriend threatening to take his own life the night before he was found hanged. An inquest heard that the 26-year-old was stressed about the demise of a long distance relationship and the loss of work during lockdown — despite him having quick success after graduating from one of the UK’s top drama schools.
Aside from his role in Luther, in which he appeared alongside Idris Elba, the actor snagged roles in other BBC dramas like No Offence and Doctors. But tragically, the coronavirus pandemic caused the roles to stop coming in, triggering Luke’s depression and anxiety.
The assistant coroner told the outlet that the performer tried to take his own life in late April and again in June. After the June attempt, Westlake messaged his ex-girlfriend, Hannah Llewelyn, threatening to take his own life once again — which was “not uncommon,” per the coroner.
The next morning, on June 18, the young actor was found dead. The cause of death was concluded as hanging following a post mortem examination; a toxicologist discovered a substantial amount of THC in his body, pointing to heavy cannabis use.
The inquest (a public judicial inquiry, for those who don’t know) was told that Westlake had been seeking therapy for childhood abuse in the months prior to his death, and had become frustrated because therapists wanted to tackle his drug and alcohol issues first. Dr. John Pimm, a clinical lead for Oxford Health NHS foundation, explained via video message why this therapeutic method is so important, telling the inquest:
“If someone is using, it will be very problematic for them to have that treatment. You should try to deal with the drug and alcohol problem and stabilize it for a reasonable amount of time… The key issue is that in trauma therapy, you will delve into very distressing things from someone’s past – in order to do that they need to be in a really good place. If you have not done the pre-work it is very risky, it is like going into surgery without the pre work.”
Luke graduated from ArtsEd drama school in 2017. Drama school classmates have set up The Luke Westlake Scholarship, which aims to reward a student with over $4,000 worth of artistic and financial support for their final year of school and first years in the entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, a JustGiving page set up in his honor has raised over $5,000 to go to mental health services for those in the performing arts.
Our hearts go out to his loved ones at this difficult time.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
[Image via Facebook]