Six cases of suicide or self harm during lockdown heard in one morning at Sunderland Coroner's Court as charity urges people to seek help
In just one morning, Sunderland’s Coroner’s Court heard six cases of deaths relating to self harm and suicide, all of which occurred since the coronavirus lockdown in March.
Two suicide conclusions were recorded while the court heard that there was evidence of self harm in four more cases which are yet to be concluded by the coroner.
And now a local suicide campaigner is warning the situation could get worse in the coming months as the long-term consequences of the pandemic become apparent.
If U Care Share Foundation co-founder Shirley Smith said people had been forced to get used to a different way of living their lives since lockdown began in March.
And though restrictions had been eased, it would be a long time before things returned to the way they had been.
"Normality is just not that normal any more,” she said.
She urged people not to stop looking out for each other as restrictions eased – and said no-one should be embarrassed to offer help where they think it is needed.
"Check in on people,” she said.
"The North East actually does well at that and I think it is vitally important. We should never feel sorry about offering support and just helping those who need it.”
On Tuesday, August 25 senior coroner Derek Winter concluded suicide in two cases.
Loving father and grandfather Vince Donoghue was found in his car in a quiet car park off on Bone Mill Lane in Washington on the evening of July 7.
Mr Winter said he was satisfied from that Mr Donoghue, 48, of Titchfield Road, Washington, had acted deliberately to end his life.
"It seems to me that at that point in time he had decided to bring his life to an end and the appropriate conclusion is one of suicide,” he said.
Mr Winter also found was no evidence of third party involvement in the death of Darren Peter Adamson, 39, who was found at home in Pinewood Avenue, Washington, on July 8.
A friend called round after noticing he had stopped posting on Facebook, found the door unlocked and his dog running loose and called police.
"I am satisfied that Mr Adamson intended to take his own life at that time and all other explanations have been ruled out,” said Mr Winter.
The court also adjourned four cases in which evidence of self harm had been found.
All six fatalities occurred after lockdown was imposed in March.
Shirley Smith said a lot of people had struggled to cope with lockdown, firstly with the initial isolation, and then with anxiety as the restrictions began to ease.
"In the first couple of weeks, we saw a 279 per cent rise in the number of calls,” she said.
“After the first few weeks, that seemed to plateau, then after the relaxation of the lockdown, there was another spike.”
No-one should be afraid to ask for help: "It is all right to let people know that we are struggling,” she said.
"If all you do is what you have always done, nothing is going to change.”
To contact the Foundation, call 387 5661 or visit https://www.ifucareshare.co.uk/