RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
a) The identity of the deceased is Ms L who died at a time unable to be specifically determined but between late on the night of 24 February 2012 and 7.30am on Saturday 25 February 2012.
b) Ms L was born in Ireland.
c) Ms L was a divorced lady without dependents.
d) Ms L died as a result of multiple blunt traumatic injuries sustained in a fall from height.
e) I am satisfied based upon the investigation conducted that Ms L died as a result of action she took to end her life.
Circumstances Surroundings the Death:
Ms L was a dedicated nurse who at times was concurrently employed. Ms L married in Ireland and her husband and herself emigrated to Australia (Hobart) in 1981. They had two children born in 1981 and 1985, a boy and a girl respectively. Ms L’s marriage deteriorated in time and there was a separation in 1989. When her children reached teenage years they both made the decision to live with their father and it is apparent that this caused concern to Ms L who appeared to be concerned from then on as to maintaining a close relationship with her children. Ms L is reported as having an active social life, she regularly travelled, enjoyed the theatre, arts and dining out. Ms L is reported as being highly regarded by her professional colleagues in relation to her nursing practice.
In 2010 Ms L was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a left mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy under the direction of Dr I. The treatment was successful and although her health had to be monitored she returned to work and general normal life activities.
In early 2011, Ms L and her daughter had a counselling session with Mr M due to the continued issue that Ms L had concerning her need for a close relationship with her children. Mr M reports that Ms L, noting that her children were living their own independent adult lives, wished to revisit the relationship she had with her daughter. Although that relationship was considered solid, Ms L wanted to explore ways to further improve the relationship. Mr M reports that during the session held with Ms L and her daughter they explored the history of their relationship with Ms L sharing some of her deep anguish of years earlier when the children were living with their father. At the conclusion of this session the parties explored ways they could better their relationship and they left the counselling session intent on continuing this conversation with each other.
Colleagues who worked with Ms L, in retrospect, noted some change in her usual outgoing and confident nature in the period from late 2011 and early 2012. Ms L had been treated on occasions for depression with hospital admissions for that condition occurring in 1997 and 2000. She was last seen by her treating general practitioner, Dr B, on 6 February 2012. At this time he noted that she complained of sadness in regard to family issues and an apparent breakdown in her relationship with her daughter. She complained of insomnia but was emphatic that she was coping well despite her ongoing sadness. She stated that she felt safe and was not suicidal. Following this consultation she was commenced on a prescription of Zoloft, an anti-depressant medication, and although she had previously been treated for depression she had not been on anti-depressant medication for the past 2-3 years.
On Friday 24 February Ms L was shown her daughter’s new house in North Hobart. Her daughter observed that her mother on this occasion “seemed fragile and was pacing about and appeared agitated”. Ms L advised her daughter that she had a number of debts ($20,000) and was concerned that if she became sick and went to hospital she wouldn’t be able to pay the debt. Ms L at that time was planning a holiday to New Zealand, and her daughter, upon realising the extent of her mother’s debt, counselled her about cancelling or delaying that holiday in order to address her financial situation. Later that evening her son also contacted his mother and they arranged to meet the following morning. During that telephone conversation her son was unaware of any particular concerns and his mother raised no specific issues of concern with him.
At 7.30am on 25 February 2012 personal items were located at a lookout on the Alum Cliffs track at Bonnet Hill by Ms H. She was concerned as to the situation and contacted police who, after conducting a search, located the body later identified as Ms L on the rocks below this cliff site. Police located Ms L’s motor vehicle parked near this location and inside was a note in the handwriting of Ms L stating “I’ve taken my own life off the cliffs”.
Subsequent to Ms L’s death her children have identified that although she received a good income she was in fact living beyond her means. Ms L had an approximate credit card debt of $30,000, had a large mortgage on her residence and owed money on her motor vehicle. Her financial situation had obviously become a considerable concern to her and she appeared unable or unwilling to address her apparent mounting debt. A further note found in Ms L’s residence also addresses her debt situation.
It is apparent that her financial situation compounded other life issues such as loneliness, pride and continued concern about her relationship with her children.
It is tragic that Ms L, perhaps due to her poor mental health, felt unable to address her financial situation or that her financial plight when added to her other life issues was thought to be insurmountable.
Before concluding I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Ms L.
Dated: 30 of September 2012 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.