A FORMER Ulverston Leisure Centre assistant took his own life while being treated for depression, an inquest heard.

Daniel James Birtwistle, 70, had been on day release from the Dova Unit at Furness General Hospital when he died on February 5, 2019.

The hearing at Cockermouth Coroner’s Court was told Mr Birtwistle was found at his home on Richmond Terrace, Ulverston after struggling, on and off, for years with his mental health.

Mr Birtwistle’s family questioned medical professionals over the decision to allow their father to be allowed home on to day release.

His daughter Kitty Birtwistle said: “He has been struggling with mental health problems for several years.

“He had been allowed to go home on day release from the Dova Unit.

“I was not happy about this.”

Kitty and her sister Sophie were the ones who found their father in the bathroom at his home.

In a statement Kitty said she was scared to go upstairs on February 5 so waited until her sister arrived before they went to search for him.

She told the coroner she had found him semi-concious years earlier after a previous suicide attempt, and that she had a feeling he had tried to do so again.

Julie Hammerton, Mr Birtwistle’s sister, said her brother had started to struggle with his mental health in the 90’s when his father died, and his wife Elizabeth died of cancer.

“When his wife died he had a second episode of depression. He kept thinking he had cancer.”

The court heard Mr Birtwistle had been a Windermere steamer crew member followed by a 11 year spell working at Hartley’s Brewery in Ulverston. After this he worked at Ulverston Leisure Centre as a recreation assistant until he retired in 2010.

From there he went on to take up multiple volunteer roles in the area, one being at the Coronation Hall which ‘kept him active and socially engaged’, Mrs Hammerton said.

The family said they believed Mr Birtwistle would not admit all of his symptoms to care staff so he could go home.

They family were also concerned about a change in medication prior to Mr Birtwistke’s death, however Dr Appaboo, consultant psychiatrist from Morecambe Bay Trust said that the idea to add another anti-depressant drug rather than change drugs completely was done so that he would be less likely to suffer more significant side effects.

Dr Appaboo also told the court how Mr Birtwistle had been convinced he had bowel cancer.

A post-mortem analysis showed there was no evidence he had bowel cancer.

Coroner Dr Nicholas Shaw was content that the Dova Unit, now managed by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, had learned lessons from this death and made positive changes.

He decided not to issue a regulation 28 report- which is something a coroner does when they believe action should be taken to prevent further deaths.

In his conclusion, the coroner said: “Daniel Birtwistle was being treated at the Dova Unit for depression. He took his own life while on day release.

“The conclusion is that this is a suicide.”

Here are some useful helpline numbers to call if you are in need of help:

Samaritans’ helpline number: 116 123

MindLine Cumbria – 0300 561 0000 text Mind to 81066

Information, guidance and support. Midday-11pm Mon-Fri. 5-11pm Weekends.

Lancs and South Cumbria Mental Health Helpline: 0800 915 4640

24/7 Mental Health and wellbeing helpline for Lancashire and South Cumbria

Lancs and South Cumbria Mental Health Textline: text HELLO to 07860 022846

Mental Health and Wellbeing textline for Lancs and South Cumbria Mon-Fri 7pm-1