12 February 2004
A GRIEVING father whose daughter committed suicide by jumping from a motorway bridge is urging youngsters to be aware of the dangers of cannabis.
Joanna Barton-Harvey (33), who was a heavy user of the drug since she was a student, jumped to her death from the Lutterworth M1 junction bridge last November.
She had battled against mental health problems and manic depression for nearly a decade. Her father Carl, of Elm Avenue, Lutterworth, believes Joanna’s dependency on the drug, which she would sometimes smoke for seven hours a day, started the decline and led her onto harder drugs.
He said: “I am for anything that gets the message across to people, particularly young people, that cannabis is very, very dangerous.
“Joanna started smoking the drug when she was very young and it progressed when she went to university. This was before she showed any signs of mental health problems but when she did develop them the cannabis was able to block things out and take all her worries away.
“The drug played games with her mind and I believe this was one of the main reasons for her death as it heightened the depression.
“It was like she was in a vicious circle where the drug would be the only thing to relax her but also worsened her health.”
Joanna grew up in Lutterworth and, after attending the High and Grammar schools, enjoyed a successful career in teaching. Mr Barton-Harvey, a retired bank manager, believes his daughter started smoking the drug to increase her confidence socially before the situation worsened.
He said: “Joanna’s death is such a waste. She had her whole life in front of her. She was a beautiful girl and very talented.
“I don’t think many youngsters understand the extent to which it can affect people.”