A father has spoken of his heartbreak after his son became addicted to energy drinks and subsequently committed suicide.
Justin Bartholomew, from Newhaven, East Sussex in the U.K, was consuming vast quantities of the high-caffeine and sugary drinks in the lead up to his tragic death, with his father, Keiron stating he was consuming up to 15 cans a day.
'He was drinking 15 cans a day and that was just the ones we could see he was drinking,’ 64 year old Mr Bartholomew said.
'I said to him, "You've got to wean yourself off these".
'He just said, "Dad, I can't stop drinking them, I've tried. I can't just stop. It's like trying to stop smoking, I just can't".
'My son was addicted to them.'
The drinks, along with a battle with depression is what Mt Bartholomew believes killed his son.
One can of an energy drink can contain as much as 160mg of caffeine, more than a double espresso and as many as 14 teaspoons of sugar.
'My son was drinking energy drinks, which accelerated his depression. It's a double-edged sword – energy drinks are bad for you because of the sugar and the caffeine,’ Mr Bartholomew told the Mirror.
'But, also, if you are drinking these drinks and you have depression, it is a lethal combination. I also believe that a total ban should also be considered.'
Justin slipped into depression after splitting from his wife. The pair were married for three months but following the break-up, he tried several times to take his own life.
Mr Bartholomew said: 'He was coming to work with a can of energy drink – cheap ones for about 35p (AUS60 cents) a can.
'To get value for money, he'd come in with bag-fulls of these drinks. It accelerated very quickly into addiction.
'His brother Daniel would look in the back of the van and see piles and piles of empty energy drink cans. We'd clear them out and the next day there would be more again.'
Over three months he went from the normal Justin that I knew and loved, to heavily depressed. Depression is a dangerous thing, combined with energy drinks it was a lethal combination.'
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story and need someone to talk to, help is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.