Haworth mother was found hanged, inquest told

Sarah O’Neill

Sarah O’Neill

First published in News by , T&A Reporter

A school worker hanged herself after a night of heavy drinking, an inquest has heard.

Sarah O’Neill, 42, who had struggled with depression for more than a decade, was found dead last December by her husband Christopher at their home in Hebden Road, Haworth.

The inquest in Bradford yesterday heard that Mrs O’Neill, who had been prescribed anti-depressants, had been worried about her husband, who had developed cancer, and about getting the sack for taking so much time off sick.

About four weeks before her death she had stopped taking the anti-depressants. She had not asked her doctor for a repeat prescription of her medication and had been missing appointments.

On the night she died Mrs O’Neill had been to the Crossroads Inn pub in Keighley drinking with her daughter Kirsty Thompson, and Mrs O’Neill’s husband later joined them.

Miss Thompson said she had already returned home drunk when her mum arrived alone and seemed to be “angry.” She said: “I presumed she had argued with Chris. I told her to get a grip and went back to bed.”

Later Miss Thompson heard her stepdad return from his night out and go upstairs, where he discovered her mother’s body. In a statement read to the hearing, Miss Thompson also said her mother and stepdad had only argued about petty things but that her mother had suffered with depression.

“She used to be a heroin addict and when she got clean about ten years ago she became depressed,” she said. Miss Thompson’s statement added: “I have no idea why she took her own life. I can only think that after she came off her anti-depressants her state of mind got worse.”

Mr O’Neill said his wife had stopped working after he became ill but they had no issues between them as a couple. Despite Mrs O’Neill’s long-term anxiety she had never self-harmed or tried to take her life before. But she had battled with bouts of depressions between 2001 and 2008, the inquest was told.

Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell recorded a verdict that Mrs O’Neill had killed herself.

St James’s Church in Cross Roads was packed for her funeral in January this year when moving tributes from her sister and daughter sparked a spontaneous standing ovation from the congregation.

When she worked at Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley she had been a popular access officer working with children with autism, pupils recovering from accidents and also youngsters with dyspraxia, a condition that impair physical co-ordination. She was remembered as loving her daughter “beyond measure”, always having a smile on her face and having a fantastic sense of humour.

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