A SCHOOLTEACHER who took his own life was seriously let down by Harrogate’s mental health services, a coroner said this week.
David Charlesworth, a science teacher at Rossett School and father of two children under five, was referred for specialist mental health care in March last year.
By May 11 he had still not been contacted by the service. That night, he set himself on fire in the school car park, dying from his injuries in the early hours of the next morning.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Geoff Fell told an inquest into Mr Charlesworth’s death on Wednesday that he had “severe concerns about the way this was handled”. Care, he said, fell “far short” of what was acceptable.
A report on the incident by North Yorkshire and York PCT concluded the lack of communication played no part in Mr Charlesworth’s death and a spokesman said a six to eight week wait for assessment was not unusual.
The report said the cognititive behavioural therapy (CBT) Mr Charlesworth had been referred for was not a “short-term cure” and would have been unlikely to impact on Mr Charlesworth’s subsequent actions.
Mr Fell rejected the report as being based on “speculation” and “conjecture” adding: “You never even met him!”
He said: “I am of the opinion that the mental health trust fell far short of what I expect, what the GP expected and what we know David expected of them.”
David’s wife, Jennifer Charlesworth, said in the week before her husband’s death he had told her and his doctor he had considered how he would take his own life.
Mr Charlesworth, who had a history of depression, was treated by his GP, Dr Alan Cunningham, in 2009, 2010 and again in March 2011 when he asked to be referred for CBT.
Dr Cunningham told the court he believed CBT would have helped his patient and that it was “unfortunate” the trust hadn’t made contact with him, suggesting that contact alone may have lifted Mr Charlesworth’s spirits.
Rossett headteacher Pat Hunter told the hearing Mr Charlesworth was a “fantastic teacher” but that he set himself “very high standards”.
“He never wanted to let anyone down, particularly the students. I think some of it was self-imposed anxiety.”
l For the full report from the inquest, see Friday’s Harrogate Advertiser.