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The Chronicle North East News
By Barbara Hodgson
16:00, 17 DEC 2016
Body of the 50-year-old mum was found in River Tyne after she had gone missing from her Fenham family home in Newcastle
Missing Newcastle woman Margaret MacDermott
Tragic mum-of-two Margaret MacDermott, whose body was recovered from the River Tyne in March, had been anxious about the future, an inquest has heard.
The 50-year-old, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis, had a history of anxiety and depression.
But these became worse in the run-up to her death as she worried about her future with MS.
This week’s inquest into her death was told how she had been receiving medical treatment and counselling ahead of going missing in the early hours of one Saturday morning.
Her worried family contacted police after she disappeared from her home in Fenham, Newcastle, on February 13.
Officers later found her car on Newcastle Quayside, where CCTV showed she had parked it around 5am that day.
Concerned for her welfare, police launched a missing person search and released footage which picked up Ms MacDermott after she left the car and crossed the road, walking with a limp, due to her MS, along the river towards Millennium Bridge.
CCTV showing a person, believed to be Margaret MacDermott, at the Millennium Bridge on Saturday at 5.08am
Det Sgt Neil Whitehead told Newcastle Coroner’s Court that CCTV cameras lost sight of her on the pontoon of the bridge and there were no images showing she might have crossed to the other side.
Ms MacDermott’s body was found in the Tyne, opposite the law courts, on March 22.
The inquest, attended by her two sons and brothers, heard that her cause of death was drowning.
Evidence from her GP practice said Ms MacDermott had taken tablets for anxiety and depression for about six years, before her diagnosis of MS had a further impact.
She became more depressed last December and worried about her future with regard to MS, as she felt her mobility had become worse over the past three years.
She was referred for more counselling sessions, which had helped her previously, and had her anti-depressants increased. The inquest heard there is medical opinion suggesting such tablets can have a “paradoxical” effect – increasing risk of suicidal behaviour – but only in under-25s.
Ms MacDermott saw her doctor and a counsellor in January and February but neither thought she was at immediate risk of self-harm as she had a “protective network” of family and friends around her.
She was planning to see a counsellor again on February 16.
Coroner Karen Dilks said Ms MacDermott’s mental health “was exacerbated by her multiple sclerosis which can be a very challenging and difficult disease to face”.
She said nobody knows what happened after Ms MacDermott was on the pontoon of the bridge so she was unable to record a suicide verdict which requires her to be “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Instead she returned a “narrative conclusion” which means summing up the death in her own words.
She said: “Ms MacDermott died due to her own actions, in that she took herself to the bridge whilst suffering from anxiety and depression.”
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system.
It can have a wide range of potential symptoms, from serious to occasionally mild and including problems with vision, movement or balance.
It’s a lifelong condition but symptoms can be treated and controlled in many cases, thanks to advancements in treatment over the past two decades which have also helped to improve quality of life.