A man found lying dead in a stream on Christmas Day took his own life following a ‘very rapid deterioration in mental health’, a coroner has ruled.
Prosthetic technician David Beal, from Oaks Avenue, Stocksbridge, went missing from home on Christmas Eve last year, his 40th birthday, hours after telling his doctor he had been having suicidal thoughts.
An inquest at the Sheffield Medico-Legal Centre heard Mr Beal was found lying face-up in shallow water in woodland off Alpine Road – a short walk from his home – on Christmas Day morning by a member of the public.
The inquest heard Mr Beal, who had been suffering with anxiety and insomnia, was pronounced dead at the scene after being discovered with cuts to his wrists.
Coroner Louise Slater recorded a verdict of suicide. She told members of Mr Beal’s family: “I’m sorry for your loss in what would appear to be very sudden and tragic circumstances, particularly at that time of the year.”
She said the case related to a ‘very rapid deterioration of somebody’s mental health’.
A statement from Mr Beal’s wife, Nicola, said his behaviour in the run-up to Christmas had been ‘out-of-character’ and he had been ‘upset and worrying about various irrational matters, mainly involving work’.
She said that on his birthday, Mr Beal had not gone to work and stayed in bed after saying there was ‘nothing to celebrate’.
His mother, Jean Beal, said when she went to visit her son later that day, she found him ‘pacing up and down’ outside his house. She said he told her he didn’t know if it was a ‘cry for help’ but he was considering taking his own life by cutting his wrists.
She took him to an appointment at Deepcar Medical Centre, where she said Mr Beal seemed more ‘relaxed’ after being reassured that people at work could not access his medical records.
GP Dr Thomas Kadicheeni said Mr Beal had not wished to be referred to a Crisis Intervention team.
Asked why he had not referred him to the crisis team for immediate support, Dr Kadicheeni said: “He was saying he was not suicidal any more.”
He said Mr Beal had no history of past suicide attempts and had a ‘very good, supportive family’. He said crisis team workers would not see a patient who was saying they weren’t feeling suicidal on the same day as a referral.
“At the end of the conversation, I was reassured by Mr Beal. At the same time, I wanted to see him again as a follow-up to see how he was doing.”
When Mr Beal’s wife returned from work, Mr Beal said he didn’t want to go to his birthday party but said she should go and meet his friends. “This was the last time I saw David,” she said.