A FORMER railway worker from Carlisle took his own life at the station in which he had worked after his mental health struggles became ‘increasingly overwhelming’ following the breakdown of his marriage.

David McArthur, 60, died at Carlisle Railway Station on April 1, 2023. 

Mr McArthur had recently returned to Carlisle from London, where he had lived since 1996, and had a variety of jobs, and was heavily involved in church and charity activities.

A statement submitted to the court by Mr Barry Davidson in conjunction with his wife Joanne, Mr McArthur’s sister, told how, following the separation from his wife of around 18 years, Philippa, Mr McArthur's mental health declined rapidly, and in in December 2020, he was first admitted to hospital after self-harming. 

The statement said: “Following the breakup, David moved into his own flat and he struggled being on his own.

“We’d always been aware of some mental health issues throughout the years, and that David had self-harmed in the past.”

The statement told how in January 2021, Mr McArthur turned up in Carlisle, and stayed with his sister, Angela.  

He was assessed by the Carleton Clinic, after which his family understood he was diagnosed with a split personality disorder, but this was ‘never confirmed’, as Mr McArthur went straight back to London.

The statement says that as far as they are aware, Mr McArthur had five subsequent inpatient stays in London.

Mr McArthur had had both hips replaced in the 2000s and suffered from plantar fasciitis. Mr Davidson said he would complain of intense pain, which would disappear suddenly.

The statement said that Mr McArthur last came to Carlisle on February 4, after texting ‘Can I stay? I need my family’. "As a family, we desperately wanted to help," it added.

A report submitted to the court by the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, noted that Mr McArthur had been known to the Surrey mental health crisis team since December 2020, and that ‘he had regularly attended A&E, usually threatening to take overdoses, and didn't get admitted to hospital, as he was requesting.’ 

Mr McArthur was detained under the mental health act by police after he was found on a motorway bridge, saying he wanted to be arrested and taken to hospital.

He was accepted to the Carleton Clinic on February 13, 2023.  

He was discharged on March 21, with diagnoses of a reaction to severe stress, and a 'dependent personality disorder' - sometimes described as a mental health condition that involves an excessive need to be taken care of by others.

Following his discharge, the Trust’s statement says that there were frequent contacts from Mr McArthur. 

It said: “He stated the only place he could stop screaming was in a hospital, and made non-specific threats to harm others to be admitted to hospital.’

On April 1, at 3.26am, police referred Mr McArthur to the crisis team, as he had stated he was going to the train tracks to ‘murder someone, and then kill himself’. 

The Trust statement said: “The crisis practitioner spoke to him, and he stated that his issues were due to the pain he experienced, and how this was causing him to walk non-stop.”

A follow up call was arranged for 5am, which took place, in which Mr McArthur stated he still needed help. Mr McArthur agreed to a further support call at 9am, but efforts to contact him at 9am and 3.30pm were unsuccessful. 

Mr McArthur was pronounced dead that day at Carlisle railway station.

CNTW Trust 'learnings'

A Trust representative told the inquest that it has taken a number of 'learnings' from the case and its investigation found that the team had not followed Trust-wide standards in terms of a crisis team response.

They said that Mr McArthur should have been allocated a lead clinician or care co-ordinator upon his admission; that the community treatment team didn’t evaluate or manage the increased risk that was 'clearly evident' when Mr McArthur was discharged; and that the crisis team did not routinely document their telephone triage at every referral.

The Trust said it has created a new admission and discharge policy and stipulated that clinical managers make sure that people allocated quickly to care-coordinators.

However, the inquest was told that these points were not 'directly contributory' to Mr McArthur's death.

Coroner's conclusion

After hearing a statement submitted to the court by a team leader from Avanti West Coast who witnessed the episode in which Mr McArthur died, assistant coroner for Cumbria, Dr Nicholas Shaw, had no hesitation in recording a conclusion of suicide.

He said: “This must have been a really awful six-week period when David reappeared in Carlisle.  

“I recognise the efforts everyone has made to try and help him, and I think they have.

“I’m absolutely full of admiration for the way you have tried to help him," he told the family.

“I don’t want to make any further recommendations. It’s hard to see, frankly, that the Trust could have done anything better than they did."

A toxicology report showed that Mr McArthur was not under the influence of alcohol or any illicit substances.