Work stress ‘was a factor in suicide’

Peacehaven, the cliffs. SUS-150415-064527001
Peacehaven, the cliffs. SUS-150415-064527001

A 50-year-old mum took her own life at Peacehaven Cliffs while on unsupervised leave from hospital, an inquest into her death has heard.

Deborah Corrigill was found dead on the undercliff pathway on April 1, 2014 after suffering with depression, anxiety and stress.

An inquest into her death, held on Thursday, August 27, heard how Mrs Corrigill was diagnosed with depression in 2001 after a suicide attempt. She was hospitalised on a few occasions due to, often impulsive, suicidal thoughts.

On March 18, 2014, she rang her GP, Dr Ranawaka at Rowe Avenue Surgery, to say she was suffering from symptoms of depression and was under a lot of stress due to her work as a dispensing assistant at a local pharmacy.

She was signed off work for two weeks, until April 2.

During the first week, she was in touch with nurses from the Assessment and Treatment Services (ATS) due to continuing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

She was assessed and said to be very understanding of her condition, wanting to seek help before it got worse.

Mrs Corrigill was staying with her mother, who was said to be the most supportive and protective factor.

However, on the morning of Wednesday, March 26, Mrs Corrigill was very distressed, threatening to self-harm and trying to find the keys to leave her mother’s house.

Paramedics were called and after many hours of persuading, took Mrs Corrigill to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. She was later transferred to Bodiam Ward, a psychiatric ward at the Eastbourne District General Hospital, for assessment.

She was kept in hospital but continually insisted it was detrimental to her mental health as she felt self-conscious and embarrassed.

On Friday, March 28, she was visited by consultants on a ward round, who granted her escorted leave during the weekend and said they would discuss the option of unescorted leave on Monday.

It was agreed Mrs Corrigill’s condition had improved and she was granted unsupervised overnight leave on Monday, March 31 as it was agreed her mother would collect her from hospital and she would stay with her husband.

The following morning, Ken Corrigill left to go to work. He told the inquest Mrs Corrigill was relaxed, “larking about” and packing her bag ready for her mother to pick her up and take her back to hospital.

However, when he called her a short while later, she told him she was sat on the edge of a cliff and was going to jump. He told her he was on his way and immediately started driving to the site.

When he arrived, he was met by police officers who had tried to talk Mrs Corrigill away from the edge, but had been unable to do so.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a conclusion of suicide while the balance of mind was disturbed. An internal investigation into the mental health service procedure highlighted a lack of family involvement in decision-making as an area of improvement.

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