Saturday 24 August 2019

Grieving widower leapt to his death after he could no longer visit his wife's grave every day

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Stock picture

Alex Scapens

A grieving Northern Ireland widower leapt to his death from a multi-storey car park after he could no longer visit his wife's grave every day.

Months before taking his own life, John Cassidy (86) was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder - depression triggered by the loss of his wife of 50 years, Jean.

An inquest heard he jumped from the first storey of the car park at the Eden Square Shopping Complex in Urmston, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of June 22.

He was found dead hours later by a passer-by.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Mr Cassidy was one of nine children who grew up in a rural farming community and moved to England in his late teens.

At the time of his death, the retired HGV driver was unable to make daily visits to his wife's grave because he had been forced to give up his driving licence. Mr Cassidy, of Oakfield Court, Urmston, had cared for his wife Jean before her death in 2014.

Early last year he tried to take his own life with a medication overdose, but his daughter found him slumped in the kitchen and he had recovered in hospital.

He was diagnosed with an adjustment order - an adverse reaction to a life event -and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

But the inquest heard he was reluctant to accept help and didn't attend the bereavement counselling sessions he was offered.

In February last year, the court was told, he was involved in a car accident, crashing into a parked van, breaking four ribs and fracturing his sternum.

Because of his earlier overdose it was feared this had been done deliberately.

However, mental health staff were satisfied it had been an accident.

But following the crash Mr Cassidy had to surrender his driving licence, which made it difficult to visit his wife's grave every day.

His daughter Bridget Fletcher, the eldest of six children, said: "I knew he would find that difficult, not being able to go every day."

The court heard that Mr Cassidy also had a bad skin allergy that he initially feared was cancer.

It ended up being diagnosed as eczema but he had remained concerned with it as prescribed creams failed to clear up the condition.

In the week of his death, Ms Fletcher had taken him to hospital because he was getting frustrated waiting for a dermatology appointment.

She told the inquest: "He was in such a bad mood but I never dreamed that would be the last time I would see him. It came as a complete shock."

Ms Fletcher explained to the court how her father married after moving from Northern Ireland.

She said: "He had quite a hard childhood, his father was very strict.

"When he had the opportunity to leave home he did and ended up coming over to England where he met my mum.

"He was very conscientious and very hard-working but he would expect everyone else to be of the same ilk. He wasn't very sympathetic to people who weren't like that.

"He provided for us all very well but I feel he had personal issues from his upbringing that made things difficult for him."

South Manchester assistant coroner Rachel Galloway recorded that Mr Cassidy had taken his own life.

A post mortem examination gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.

After the verdict, Ms Fletcher, said: "They (the mental health teams) did what they could. We are happy with the care he received.

"He was a hard-working, conscientious person. Anyone who spoke of him said how helpful he was."

Belfast Telegraph

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