Stress of life led to train suicide

PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 December 2010

Coroner's Court

Coroner's Court

Copyright Archant Ltd

A DEPRESSED mother who committed suicide just a week before her daughter’s wedding ended her own life because the stresses of life had become too much, a court heard.

Lynette Rawles, aged 63, killed herself by crouching in front of a high-speed train at Highbridge Railway Station on July 16.

Her death came two months after her brother Peter Kick hung himself and eight days before her daughter Hannah was to get married in her home village of Mark.

Mrs Rawles was being treated for psychosis at adult inpatient unit at Rydon House, in Taunton, when she ended her life.

At an inquest in Taunton, coroner Michael Rose ruled the former Mark College secretary had committed suicide while her balance of mind was disturbed.

He said: “It is hard to see how this tragic ending to her life could have been stopped and I don’t think there was anything more the family could have done.

“There was no doubt that she was affected by her psychotic illness. She had become reasonably better, but the events around her became too much for her.

“The wedding was a stressful factor, but if it wasn’t there it would have been another matter which would have led to this.”

Mr Rose also refused to lay blame on bosses at Rydon House who had let her leave the unit unsupervised on the day she died.

Despite a risk assessment being carried out on her a week before her death, he said he had no criticism for the unit, adding it was right inpatients were allowed out into the community.

The court heard from Mrs Rawles’ son, Simon Rawles, that she had retired from a 21-year position at Mark College three years ago.

But when her husband Alan’s tyre business failed during the economic downturn, she became affected by financial stress.

The anxiety put a strain on their marriage and they split, although the court heard they had no animosity for each other.

Mrs Rawles then suffered the grief of her brother, who lived in the same village, killing himself by hanging on May 17 this year.

And in the weeks up to her daughter’s wedding, Simon told the hearing she had become distressed.

On the day she died, the court heard how she was spotted by prison officer Laura Desborough acting unusually at Highbridge Railway Station just before 11am.

Five minutes later, Miss Desborough watched her climb down onto the tracks as a high speed train approached.

She yelled ‘get off’, but Mrs Rawles did not turn round and went on to crouch before the train, which was travelling at 110mph.

Driver Trevor Philips saw the woman from a distance, thinking she was a teenager playing on the platform.

About 60 metres away from her he realised she was not about to move and applied the train’s brakes, but it was too late and he made contact with her seconds later.

The family, who had described her as a ‘devoted mother’ who was liked and respected in the community, declined to comment following the hearing at West Somerset Coroners Court.

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