Trans student takes own life by caffeine overdose

A trans student who died in their halls in Cardiff in May was said to have overdosed on caffeine in an attempt to take their own life, an inquiry in Wales established on Monday.

Cardiff University student, named Marty Marianova Dragonova in court, moved to Wales from their native Bulgaria to pursue a degree in English and French. Friends and family said the 20-year-old was assigned female at birth, but identified as male from a young age.

A GP diagnosed the student with gender dysphoria in 2017, Wales Online reported, and they were referred to a local gender identity clinic. The student had told their friends they were planning on transitioning and had begun saving money for the procedure.

But on the evening of May 29, the student’s flatmates heard crying and loud noises coming from their bedroom. They could see the student was ill. One of the flatmates told the hearing, held at Pontypridd Coroner’s Court, that she initially thought the student was drunk, describing blood in their vomit and coming from their nose.

The flatmate said she told their other flatmate to call 999 as she tried to help the student. “I checked for a pulse, but it was minimal,” she said, quoted in Wales Online.

The student was brought to the University Hospital of Wales, where staff tried to revive them for more than two hours, but they were pronounced dead soon after 2am on May 30.

The average caffeine content of a regular cup of coffee is around 95 mg (Pexels)

Consultant pathologist Dr Katherine Frewer told the court that the student’s caffeine level was 443 milligrams per litre of blood—an amount considered to be fatal. According to the doctor, the cause of death was caffeine toxicity.

The hearing was also told that two notes, written in English and Bulgarian, were found in the student bedroom in which they discussed their gender dysphoria.

According to assistant coroner Graeme Hughes, the student ingested high amounts of caffeine with the intention to take their own life. “My conclusion is that how Marty came about [their] death is one of suicide.”

A note from the student’s father Marian Draganov to the hearing described his child as having a passion for language and literature, particularly English and French and a strong desire to study in the UK.

Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (, or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( ​Readers in the US can contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you live in New Zealand, the Suicide Crisis Helpline can be reached on 0508 828 865. Readers in Australia can phone Samaritans on 135 247.