A glamorous 28-year-old businesswoman killed herself because she struggled to cope with living alone in Britain with her family spread across the world, an inquest heard yesterday.
Sales manager Sharon Bukokhe, of Levenshulme, Manchester, was a high achiever working for a family planning charity but felt lonely because relatives including her husband lived abroad.
Mrs Bukokhe, who was originally from Kenya, used her laptop to research ways to commit suicide, applied full make up and painted her nails then suffocated herself at her flat in April.
A diary found after her death said: ‘I think that any life is as valid as the next, such that an ending of 25 is as good as 88. I have no real regrets or fears any more, I just feel decisive and justified.’
Mrs Bukokhe, who appeared to friends to be ‘the happiest person in the world’, settled in the UK in 2002 and graduated in design and engineering at Nottingham Trent University, the inquest heard.
She was later appointed sales manager of a charity helping with family planning issues involving third world countries. But Mrs Bukokhe was deeply affected by her family living in other countries.
Her husband lived in South Africa so he could complete a Master’s Degree whilst her mother lived in Richmond, Virginia, in the US, and her sister lived in Canada.
Her only relative in Britain was her brother who lived 250 miles away in Gillingham, Kent and as a result of her feelings of loneliness she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Mrs Bukokhe’s sister Caroline Lusiche, who flew in from Canada to be at the inquest in Manchester said: ‘There were many factors which led to it.
‘She was a high achiever, her marriage was also a big factor. She wanted it to succeed but he was in South Africa doing his masters. She moved and they decided to put that marriage on hold.
‘She had come here as a very young girl and it really affected her that we were all dispersed in different countries. In the last few days we had been trying to get back in touch with each other.
‘But because of the time difference- me in Canada – we kept missing each other. I sent her an email and did not hear back then I heard.
‘She was trying to be the one to bring the family together, she had a lot on her shoulders weighing on her. She had high objectives we were taught to hold our chin up and get on with it.
‘She tried to persevere she wanted to do that to protect your feelings – she didn’t want to make you feel bad’.
Mrs Bukokhe’s flatmate of two years, Stefanie Maccalli, told the hearing: ‘She was a really artistic, creative person, very active – and I think everybody who didn’t know her particularly well found her the happiest person in the world.
‘I would say the creative and joy and artistic side was real but the happiness she was showing all the time was not always real. There were times when she was not this happy, outgoing person.
‘The two years I knew her where divided into a two periods, the first she was taking medication for the bipolar and she was always very happy.
‘In the second part she changed the amount of medication. She would have ups and downs every few weeks. When low she would not like to talk too much and would take a day off work and stay in her room and watch movies.
‘She was always trying to find a balance. She started saying things like she could not show weakness, she felt guilty about being dull.’
Ms Maccalli said that the last time she saw her was on April 24, in the kitchen of their shared home.
‘She told me that she was thinking about buying a house, she was taking in a very positive way about the future – but her eyes did not show that,’ Ms Maccalli said.
‘She took her food upstairs so I got that she was in one of her low moods. The last look she gave me, I got the feeling it was kind of a serious look. I had a bad feeling.’
Ms Maccalli added that the next couple of nights she arrived home late but had become concerned that neither she nor her other housemate had seen Mrs Bukokhe.
‘I decided to check Facebook to see if she had gone somewhere but I couldn’t find her profile. That was the moment everything started clicking,’ she said. ‘I sent her a text to her mobile. Part of me was already thinking something bad.’
‘We tried to open the door it wouldn’t open – it was obvious that it was closed from the inside. We decided to try and break the door, we looked inside and she was on the floor in front of the door.
‘She was dressed with make-up and her nails done, she looked like she had been somewhere nice or she was just going somewhere.’
The inquest was told Mrs Bukokhe had last seen her doctor, Dr Javaid Khan, in March this year.
He told the inquest that she had stopped taking her medication in January, and said she was feeling low and her sleep was variable and she had a lack of motivation.
Dr Khan said: ‘She was having suicidal thoughts but she could put them aside. She was not a severe type of manic depression, there was a low assessment of suicide.
‘When I found out it shocked me very much. She always put a brave face on, she said she did feel very lonely.’
Recording a verdict of suicide, Deputy Coroner for Manchester Carolyn Singleton said: ‘I’m sure that Sharon intended to kill herself.’