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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Sellafield engineer found hanged had tried to kill himself before

A man who suffered depression for 20 years had twice tried to kill himself in the three months before he died.

Sellafield civil engineer and father-of-two Stephen Hartley, 57, was found hanged in the garage of his home on August 1 last year. He left two goodbye notes for his family which gave a clear indication that he intended to take his own life.

Described at an inquest as an intelligent man who liked classical music, he was an accomplished bridge player, a fellwalker, sailor and swimmer who presented a “smiling, charming mask” to the world

However, the inquest heard, he felt he was a failure in all aspects of his life and was “overwhelmed by pessimism and hopelessness and pre-occupied with thoughts of death.”

Mr Hartley, who lived at The Green, Millom, had been in and out of mental health units for several years receiving treatment and had once been sectioned, but had lost faith in the use of anti-depressant medication which he said made him feel like a zombie.

Coroner David Roberts recorded a suicide verdict on Mr Hartley and expressed his sympathies to Mr Hartley’s son Jack, daughter Alexandra and brother Ken Hartley.

The hearing was told that Mr Hartley had been hit hard by the break-up of his marriage in 1987 and become severely depressed.

In 1997 he was admitted voluntarily to Yewdale Ward at West Cumberland Hospital and had made a suicide attempt with alcohol and tablets in 2004.

After being detained under the Mental Health Act to a unit in Cheshire, he was transferred to the Dane Garth mental health unit at Furness General Hospital, Barrow under the care of the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust but discharged himself.

In an assessment by clinical psychologist Liz Bolt in May 2011 he expressed a wish for cognative behaviour therapy (CBT) but did not want to undergo ECT (electroconvulsion therapy), which affects the balance of neuro-transmitters in the brain.

In 2012 Mr Hartley told Dr Mark Fielding, consultant psychiatrist with Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, that he felt detached from the world and got no enjoyment from life but had no suicidal intentions.

After he discharged himself from hospital Mr Hartley didn’t want any aftercare from the community mental health team.

Mr Hartley’s son Jack said his father didn’t have a good experience in Dane Garth and did not want to be there. “It wasn’t a helpful place in which to get better.” Dr Fielding apologised for that.

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