THE moving story of a young Swanage man who died after battling depression linked to a controversial acne drug will be screened later this month.
Popular Jesse Jones, described as one of life’s true individuals, vanished after a night out with friends in Swanage, last February.
The documentary titled Dying for Clear Skin has been directed by Jesse’s devastated filmmaker father Derek Jones.
He told the Daily Echo: “I’ve been making documentaries for years, mainly about other people’s tragedies. I never expected to be making one about my own.
“This film isn’t conclusive as no-one will ever know what happened the night Jesse died. I just wanted to tell my son’s story.”
During the five-day search before Jesse’s body was discovered at the bottom of cliffs at Swanage’s Ballard Down, around 2,000 people joined an online group dedicated to locating the talented 24-year-old university graduate.
Celebrities Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr all used their Twitter sites to spread the word about his disappearance.
In the film, to be screened on BBC3, presenter Gemma Cairney probes links between the acne drug Roaccutane, which Jesse had been prescribed on two separate occasions, and suicide.
Controversy has dogged Roaccutane for years, with campaigners urging UK health officials to ban it because of side effects linked to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Indeed, the drug made world headlines ten years ago after the family of US teenager Charles Bishop, who deliberately crashed his light aircraft into the side of a building in Tampa, Florida, blamed Roaccutane for his death.
The NHS warns more than one in 10,000 people can experience suicidal thoughts, aggression, anxiety, mood changes, psychosis and depression when taking the drug.
Jesse last took Roaccutane for three months in 2009, but stopped treatment after experiencing mood swings, his dad said.
“Even though he stopped taking this drug, I strongly believe the damage had already been done,” Derek stressed. “Unbeknown to a lot of people Jesse was severely depressed.
“Obviously, none of us knew how bad he felt. He kept this absolutely to himself. We simply never suspected he was so down and in the days leading up to his death he seemed so happy. Everything appeared to be on the up for him.”
Derek only started to glean an insight into how much his son had been suffering when police, investigating his disappearance, discovered Jesse had downloaded a ‘suicide manual’ from the internet.
“He was actually seeing a psychiatrist but it took six months to get an appointment following the referral from his GP,” said Derek. “I don’t want to believe Jesse took his own life, but I see no other reason for him to go up to the highest point of Ballard Down that night.
“Roaccutane is supposed to be a last resort drug. This film is about what happened to my son and why we think it happened to him.”
Dying for Clear Skin will be broadcast at 9pm, November 26, BBC3.