Woman struggling with lockdown found hanged by husband at Staffordshire home



A woman struggling with her mental health during the first coronavirus lockdown was found hanged in the garage at her Staffordshire home by her husband.

Melanie Birch had made suicide attempts the previous year.

And then when the pandemic hit, her state of mind deteriorated further.

An inquest into her death heard she went to bed on August 19 without expressing any concerns and woke up the following day at 6am.

When her husband got up at 9.45am, he noticed the keys to garage were missing and then made the discovery, StaffordshireLive reports.

Chris Dolby, a registered mental health nurse with Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the 64-year-old was referred by her GP to the mental health team on June 8, 2020.

He told the hearing: “She was seen by two consultant psychiatrists on three occasions who were of the understanding she had a severe depressive episode.”

In August a psychiatrist confirmed she had a depressive disorder with potential psychosis.

Mr Dolby added: “She had difficulties in the last four or five years where she took early retirement from work and had difficulties with covid-19, particularly during the lockdown.

“She had low moods, loss of energy and weight loss.”

She had been on antidepressants which helped her sleep and this dose was later increased.

The inquest heard that she had had previous suicidal thoughts but these appeared to have lessened.

Mr Dolby added: “There is no evidence she reported suicidal thoughts to anyone [recently] and had made reassurances to her family that she had no intention to kill herself.

“She was looking after herself and leaving the house and was sleeping better.”

South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh asked if Covid-19 had made this situation worse and Mr Dolby said: “The restrictions affected her mental health and exasperated her deterioration. We still visited her and met her in her garden.”

He also added that she did not leave a farewell note but said that was not unusual.

Mr Haigh said Ms Birch intended to kill herself but was affected by her mental health at the time.

He gave her cause of death as hanging and recorded a verdict that she had committed suicide at home in Chaseley Avenue, Rugeley, while depressed.

Need help?

The Samaritans : 116 123. Website: www.samaritans.org . Email: jo@samaritans.org

Offer a 24-hour confidential helpline. You can also contact them by text or email.

Men Unite: A local group addressing the rising problem of suicide among men. If you would like to join the Men Unite Facebook group click here.

NHS 111 Service : 111. Website: www.nhs.uk .

Call the NHS 111 service if you urgently require medical help or advice. The service is availabe 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Mental Health Access Team : 0300 123 0907

The single point of contact and access for all North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust services. The Access Team provides 24/7 cover for all mental health and learning disability services across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

Mind Infoline : 0300 123 3393. Website: www.mind.org.uk . Email: info@mind.org.uk. Text: 86463

Information on a range of mental health problems and support. Lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).

HOPELineUK : 0800 068 41 41

A specialist telephone service staffed by trained professionals at PAPYRUS who give non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to children, teenagers, young adults aged up to 35 and anyone concerned about a young person. Opening hours are 10am to 10pm, Mondays to Fridays, 2pm to 5pm, weekends and bank holidays.

NSPCC Childline : 0800 1111. Website: www.childline.org.uk

Children’s charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.

SANE : 0845 767 8000. Website: www.sane.org.uk . Email: sanemail@sane.org.uk

Out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers. Open every day from 6pm to 11pm.

Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline : 0808 800 2234. Email: staffordshire.helpline@brighter-futures.org.uk. Text: 07860 022821





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