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Woman who took her own life after 'crippling pain' was refused NHS hormone replacement therapy

Bournemouth Coroners' Court is held at the town hall
Bournemouth Coroners' Court is held at the town hall

A CHRISTCHURCH woman took her own life after suffering months of “crippling pain” and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, an inquest heard.

The body of 69-year-old Susan Connelly was found on Avon Beach on 18th May 2020, and a subsequent search of her home by police officers found suicide notes, a will and property deeds laid out.

Susan, a mother of twins who was working at the Sheiling Ringwood special needs school, was described by her sister Cynthia as a “gregarious and generous” person who “adored children”, and a “well-loved and respected colleague”.

Bournemouth Coroners' Court heard she was also a “complex lady” who was suffering from excruciating gynaecological pain and severe depression and anxiety caused by traumatic events from her past and her son Jason’s imprisonment.

Susan believed her pain stemmed from low oestrogen levels, and after the NHS refused to prescribe hormone replacement therapy, she went to see a private gynaecologist.

Treatment was started, but Cynthia said the predicted six to eight-week timeframe for it to take affect had been “too long for her to bear”. Three weeks later Susan walked into the sea and drowned.

Cynthia continued: “She underwent some job changes, which she found overwhelming, and was signed off in December.

“She lost a lot of weight and was experiencing suicidal thoughts. She told me and she told the children but I thought she was just saying it. I feel terrible I didn’t take it seriously.”

Susan was referred to a community mental health team by her GP in January 2020, and was seen by Dr Chamath Rampathirana.

He told the inquest Susan had been prescribed various painkillers but they had sent her mind into a “frenzy” and affected her stomach lining, so she stopped taking them.

He said: “She was severely depressed and I think her distress levels were driven by the pain she was suffering. But she was also acutely worried about her son and suffering from what I now believe to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress from adverse events in her life.

“I was surprised when I saw her because I thought she would have been admitted. However, it was clear there was support from the community.”

Dr Rampathirana stressed that it was his impression there was no “suicidal intent”.

Mental health nurse Sarah Armstrong, who saw and spoke to Susan around a dozen times, told the coroner she had experienced “trauma with previous partners” and had “low self-esteem”.

She added: “But she was motivated to improve her mental health, and said she would never take her own life because her son had been in intensive care the previous year after taking an overdose, and she knew how that had affected her and her family.”

Cynthia told the inquest Susan had always loved Avon beach, and most years they had gone there as a family on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Coroner Richard Middleton recorded the cause of death as suicide.

The Samaritans can be contacted for support 24 hours a day on 116 123 or via the website www.samaritans.org

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