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Wednesday, Jun 11th 2014
A woman shot herself dead after suffering depression brought on by the menopause, an inquest heard yesterday.
Heather Chetwynd’s husband Robert came home from work to find her lying on the patio with his shotgun nearby. Earlier, she had told him: ‘I wish I could disappear in a puff of smoke.’
That morning he had left her in a happy mood, he said. However, the 52-year-old mother of two was suffering severe depression and mood swings caused by the menopause.
Mr Chetwynd said she had changed since its onset two years earlier. “Before that, she had been a very lively and bubbly woman,” he added.
“The menopause caused my wife to have severe mood swings and her attitude would change almost daily.
“Mostly, she would stare at the television. When I would talk to her, she would hear me without listening.”
At one point, she became so depressed that she told him: “I wish I could disappear in a puff of smoke”, the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was told.
But on the morning of her death on March 17 this year, she was in a happy mood. The couple had just returned from a sightseeing trip to Exmoor, where they had spent the day walking along a river. “She seemed very happy and calm,” said Mr Chetwynd.
As he left the family home in Warminster for work, ‘she even asked me what I wanted for tea that night’.
But when the engineer returned at 5.15pm, he could not find his wife. “I looked for her everywhere and then I saw the loft hatch open. This was very unusual, as Heather hated going up to the loft.”
He climbed the ladder and discovered one of his three shotguns missing from the gun cabinet, which had been locked.
Mr Chetwynd rushed to the back garden, where he found his wife dead on the patio. Bursting into tears, he said: “I couldn’t take in what I was seeing.”
She had loaded the shotgun with a single cartridge and placed it to the side of her head. A neighbour heard the shot at 2.45pm.
Mr Chetwynd said: “My wife was a very gentle woman who at one time was very happy. “I wish more people realised the damaging effects that the menopause can have on women.”
His wife, a part-time shop assistant, had been prescribed antidepressants, but would not take them for weeks at a time because she did not like drugs.
She was afraid to take hormone replacement therapy because she had high blood pressure.
The inquest was told Mrs Chetwynd had been “very good’ at hiding her depression and her GP did not believe her to be suicidal.
Recording a suicide verdict, coroner Nigel Brooks, said: “It is quite clear that this was not a cry for help. I am convinced that Mrs Chetwynd was aware of the immediate consequences of her action and that she took those actions voluntarily while depressed.”