'Caring and loving' Chesterfield teenager died after taking Xanax tablets
Police have sounded a public safety warning after a much-loved teenager died from taking Xanax tablets.
Kieran Shepherd, of Chesterfield, was just 17-years-old when he passed away.
His mother Lisa Shepherd described him as a 'caring and loving son' who had many interests including music, playing computer games and supporting Chesterfield FC.
Kieran's father Richard Shepherd said he was a 'lovely kid' who was 'easily led'.
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a tranquilizer used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
It is not available on the NHS and can only be obtained on a private prescription in the UK - but pills can easily be bought from street dealers, online pharmacies or the dark web.
'A lot of people in Chesterfield were taking it'
On Tuesday, a Chesterfield coroners' court inquest heard Kieran's girlfriend Erin Crick found his body at her flat on the morning of February 17.
Giving evidence, 19-year-old Ms Crick said Kieran started taking Xanax 'no more than two weeks before he died'.
Ms Crick told how Kieran listened to music by the rap artist Lil Peep, who died after overdosing on Xanax.
She added: "A lot of people in Chesterfield were taking it."
According to Ms Crick, Kieran probably took between ten and 15 Xanax tablets in the day before he passed away.
She said he was 'upset about his granddad being poorly' and he was 'fed up with college' - but she did not get the impression he wanted to take his own life.
Referring to his death, Ms Crick said she 'didn't think this would happen'.
Detective Constable Dean Tidd, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said analysis of Kieran's mobile phone revealed he was 'possibly experimenting with Xanax' but this was only 'very recently' before he died.
He added: "Xanax use has increased quite dramatically.
"We'd call it an emerging trend.
"It's something more people are taking."
Coroner Peter Nieto concluded that Kieran's death was drug-related.
He said toxicology tests revealed the level of Xanax in Kieran's system was within the range capable of causing death.
Mr Nieto added: "It's clear he was a very recent user of Xanax, a very inexperienced user.
"There's no evidence he took the tablets to harm himself."
'Please do not purchase medication illegally'
After the inquest, Derbyshire Constabulary issued a statement which said: "This is a tragic and unnecessary death of a young man. Kieran was just 17-years-old and had his whole life ahead of him. Our thoughts are with Kieran's family and friends.
"Kieran purchased what he believed to be Xanax tablets. Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
"Tablets purchased illegally are unregulated and could be adulterated with any number of harmful substances. There is no way of determining what the strength of these tablets are, or if they are genuine or fake.
"Many people struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues. These issues should no longer carry the stigma they once did. We urge anyone who is worried about their mental health or wellbeing to contact their GP or ring mental health charity Mind on 0300 123 3393.
"Please do not take matters into your own hands and purchase medication illegally. This is incredibly dangerous and potentially life threatening.
"Anyone with information about the sale of illegal drugs, including medication, should contact Derbyshire Constabulary on 101, via direct message on the force Facebook and Twitter accounts or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."