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By Becky Evans
Published: 11:03 GMT, 19 March 2013 | Updated: 12:27 GMT, 19 March 2013
- Dr John King described as the ‘perfect GP’ who invested time in his patients
- Became severely depressed after son Michael diagnosed with renal failure
- Ten days before son due to have kidney transplant Dr King hanged himself
- Discovered in the family home in Congleton, Cheshire, by wife Pamela
- Coroner ruled verdict of suicide at inquest into Dr King’s death
Dr Pamela King, pictured outside Macclesfield Coroners Court in Cheshire, found her husband’s body at the family home. A dedicated family doctor, described as the ‘perfect GP’, killed himself after becoming severely depressed over his son needing a kidney transplant, an inquest was told yesterday.
Dr John King, 51, was so anxious about his son Michael’s renal failure diagnosis that he could ‘barely speak’ and had suicidal thoughts. But just ten days before Michael was due to have his operation, Dr King hanged himself at the family home.
His wife of 25 years Pamela discovered him in the garage of their house in Congleton, Cheshire. Dr Pamela King, 52, who is also a GP, told an inquest into her husband’s death that the night before he died on September 11, last year, she cuddled up to Dr King and told him she loved him.
She said: ‘I asked him “do you love me?” And he said “well who wouldn’t”. Dr King was on sick leave from Biddulph Medical Centre where he was a senior partner.
His wife told the hearing at Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court: ‘The following morning, I went to work. ‘I had asked him “What are you going to do today?”
‘He just smirked and said “I’m doing dusting aren’t I?” I came back home and then I found him.’ Dr King was described as an ‘old school’ doctor who talked at length with patients about their conditions rather than ‘bat them away with pills.’
The hearing was told the GP was badly affected when Michael was diagnosed with kidney problems. He had twice previously threatened to kill himself after putting a knife to his neck.
Despite having no history of mental health issues, Dr King was taken to a health centre in March last year where he admitted to doctors he was developing suicidal thoughts. He suffered sleep problems and he appeared to be ‘genuinely stressed.’
Dr Pamela King said her husband also suffered from cognitive difficulties and was unable to make decisions. It was decided he stay in hospital and was discharged on May 30. She said: ‘He actually couldn’t make that decision – he actually couldn’t speak.
‘His mental state deteriorated rapidly. He had low mood and was getting upset about trivial matters. He suffered low confidence and negative thinking.’ After he left hospital he was put on medication and remained on sick leave from the surgery.
He received continued care from the mental health team but social workers said he did not want to engage in treatment. Dr King was on sick leave from Biddulph Medical Centre, pictured, at the time of his death.
The hearing was told the GP felt particularly anxious as the family waited for news on whether Michael could have a kidney transplant. Dr Pamela King said: ‘He didn’t think he was ever going to get better. In his own mind, there was never any glimmer of hope. ‘If I told him he was getting better, he didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t engage with the mental health team.’
The family were told Michael’s operation would take place on September 21, but Dr King took his own life on September 11. Social worker Samantha Harris, who visited Dr King weekly, said he did not fully engage in their activities and instead spent a lot of time in bed.
Recording a verdict of suicide by hanging Coroner Dr Janet Napier told Mrs King: ‘He wasn’t himself in any way at all. ‘This must have been horrifying – I can’t imagine how awful it was for you.’