THE grieving York mother of a young man who took his own life has urged people to spare a few moments this Christmas to think of those who have lost loved ones.

Fiona Crawford said that, like many others, she used to get caught up in the “relentless jollity” of Christmas each year, with little thought for poor souls who were mourning a death.

“Now each tinselly jingle is like nails on a blackboard,” said Mrs Crawford, of Fulford, who said her son Zack Petrou, 28, died of a massive overdose last month after running up tens of thousands of pounds of debts through gambling, drink and drugs.

“Christmas always used to be a big occasion for me, but this year it’s going to be like any ordinary day.

“Let us say a prayer, light a candle, and trust that in time those left behind will, in the words of Ernest Hemingway, become ‘stronger at the broken places.’”

Mrs Crawford said while a full inquest would not be held until next year, she was in no doubt that Zack had overdosed using morphine he had bought on the Internet. She said he was bipolar and had revealed how he had been feeling in a seven-page suicide note.

She said it was his fifth suicide attempt and she was convinced he had been planning it for months.

Zack, who lived in Milton Keynes and whose body was found in his flat there several days after he died, had felt a financial and emotional burden on everyone.

Mrs Crawford said: “He had overdrafts on credit card after credit card after credit card. He just wanted to sleep all the time.”

She said he had been addicted to gambling on the Internet, and she and her husband, Simon, wanted to set up a charitable trust to campaign against “lax” laws controlling online gambling.

She also hoped to do something to help provide more support to people addicted to gambling.

Mrs Crawford, whose father James Clunie is a former Professor of Mathematics at the University of York, said Zack had been a very intelligent young person who had achieved five A levels, but had begun to fall ill in his early 20s.

After being diagnosed as bipolar, he had been prescribed lithium which meant he could no longer drive professionally and his condition had worsened over the past couple of years.

Mrs Crawford said: “I visited him in Milton Keynes in October. He took me to the coach and I saw him driving off and stopping at the lights. That’s the last I ever saw of him.”

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