University worker who spent £1,600 a month on online gambling took her own life

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A university worker hanged herself after she became an internet gambling addict spending £1,600 a month online, an inquest heard.

Natasha White, 34, played so much online roulette, plus bingo and Lottery scratchcards she spent the equivalent of her entire salary in just one year, the Manchester hearing was told.

The HR systems advisor told friends it had become no longer about winning money as she was treating her habit as a form of ”self harming”.

Miss White, who worked at Manchester Metropolitan University, took out payday loans to fund her habit and also attended Gamblers Anonymous but she struggled with her soaring debts.

She was found hanged at her home in August 2018 after a friend raised the alarm when she had not heard from her.

When Miss White’s grieving father opened her bank statements he discovered £20,000 from her account had been spent on bettings apps over a 12 month period.

Natasha White worked at Manchester Metropolitan University
Natasha White worked at Manchester Metropolitan University (Image: Google)

The hearing was told Miss White was a “caring and intelligent” woman but had been frustrated that her job was not commensurate with her college qualifications.

Her father David White, from Telford, Shropshire said: “Natasha was very secretive and didn’t often reveal her true feelings to us as parents.

“While she was with us for two weeks she was working from home and she was obviously very distressed.

“She admitted to having a gambling problem which we were not fully aware of.

“We knew she had gambled in the past but certainly not aware to the extent that she was gambling.

“Because she gambled she was finding it difficult to make ends meet. She was gambling her salary away days or even hours after she received it.

“After her death I managed to acquire her bank statement going back 12 months that revealed to me the extent of her gambling.

“It looked like she had spent £20,000 over 12 months on gambling which is more than she earned. I suspect in the last six months it was increasing month on month.”

Miss White’s best friend and ex-partner Naomi Timpany, who works as a counselor, said: “Natasha struggled with depression and gambling and when she was very down she did gamble a lot but in between those cycles she was a very kind caring and very fun person as well.

“There were frustrations with her job – it wasn’t the career she pictured herself in.

“Natasha was very private and she would only tell you what she wanted you to know.

“She had wanted to clear her debts. She had mentioned during a previous relationship she played mainly online roulette and by the end it was more compulsion to keep pushing the button.

“By 2014 she was at Gamblers Anonymous and I attended Gamblers Anonymous for family and friends.

“She was then seeing a counselor who was was on and off for five years.

“The gambling was underpinning part of her depression and she was going through cycles of debt then whenever she began to feel down she would gamble again. Her finances were heavily influenced by the gambling.”

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Jennifer Massey who treated Miss White said: “It wasn’t specifically whether the gambling caused the depression or the depression which caused the gambling. It was just part of the problem and it was given as ‘I gamble at times and would like treatment for that’.

“I saw her at a clinic she presented as improved at that time she was happy with the treatment given, we decided to add in an antidepressant as well.

“I felt there was ongoing improvement she was still engaged in the treatment. I felt there was further scope for improvement.

“She was shy and private and a highly intelligent, articulate lady and I felt that she did have insight into her addiction and depression.

“But she failed to attend further appointments and I felt she was low risk as she had been improving and I made the assumption she was feeling better.”

Police coroner’s officer Marie Logan said: “Her friend Naomi hadn’t heard from her for some time and contacted police.

“Having gone to the address and unable to raise anybody officers forced entry and that is sadly when Natasha was found hanging.

“There were internet searches related to clinical depression, bingo, payday loans and crisis counselling.

“There were a large amount of documents Natasha was a prolific writer there was a lot in relation to how she was unhappy with her life, relationships hadn’t turned out as she liked.”

Recording a conclusion of suicide Zak Golombeck said: “The history of Natasha’s gambling addiction and the notes found at the scene and evidence of her state of mind leading up to her death demonstrate she took her own life and intended to do so.

”She was an intelligent and articulate young woman it is clear from those who are in attendance that her death had had a significant effect on all those who knew and loved her.”

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