Accidental overdose suspected in Gozo teen’s untimely death

In an on-going investigation, the sudden death of 15-year-old Jessica Zahra shocked the Gozitan community, amidst reports that cause of death may have been accidental overdose

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
20 September 2017, 8:00am
Jessica Zahra: mews reports of her untimely death said the Gozitan community was shocked at the news
Jessica Zahra: mews reports of her untimely death said the Gozitan community was shocked at the news
The Gozo police are still investigating what is believed to have been an accidental overdose that led to the untimely death of a troubled 15-year-old.

The headlines and stories that reported Jessica Zahra’s sudden death in early July carried little details, except for the outpouring of grief on social media for the teen and her family.

News websites like Newsbook and Net reported on the shock and upset at the death of the Zebbug girl among Gozitan friends and the community at large. 

But since her death, a police inquiry has yet to conclude the case, with investigating officers having also pored over the girl’s online history as well as hints of her troubles found in school essays. 

A source privy to the inquiry told this newspaper that Zahra’s death resulted from an accidental overdose, possibly compounded by an incorrect diagnosis that took place before the girl was rushed to hospital.

Behind the grief and incredulity that followed her death, was the story of a difficult blossoming into teenage life.

Police saw mobile phone photos snapped by the girl which she would send to friends, while grounded at home, punished by her parents for some usual transgression.

In yet another typical act of rebellion, Zahra would have ditched her usual group of friends to instead go to Malta’s Isle of MTV spectacular in Floriana with a different set of friends, unbeknown to her parents.

Such episodes may have coloured a difficult relationship with her parents, who have three other children.

“Some of the disciplining could have been heavy-handed,” the source told this newspaper. “The girl would be grounded and locked in her room or the washroom. It was a case of growing pains, and a typical episode where concerned parents are trying to set their children straight.”

After having angered her parents by joining an unknown group of friends for the 27th June MTV concert down in Floriana, Zahra was grounded yet again.

“We think that in a fit of rebellion, she took an overdose of paracetamol pills while in her bedroom. The incident provoked a bout of vomiting, which led her parents to call their doctor. Believing this was just a case of gastric flu, the girl could have been administered further medication.

“The day after, she was unconscious. She was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead soon after from liver and kidney failure,” the source privy to the inquiry said.

In the reports on her tragic death, Zahra was described as a girl who gave courage to others, always had a smile on her face and, according to a friend who spoke to Newsbook.com, “would make others happy with her presence.”

Zahra was the third of four siblings, and enjoyed dancing and the village festa, while having had aspirations of one day becoming an architect.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.