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Manchester Evening News
Bolton and Bury ReporterHelena Vesty,
08:23, 25 FEB 2021
“It is extremely sad that she felt lonely, isolated and in fear of the outside. I find it a great tragedy that a lady of her age should end her life in these circumstances,” said the coroner.
Isolation and loneliness has been affected many people this year (Image: PA)
A beloved mother and sister took her own life amid mental health struggles worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, telling family in a heartbreaking note that she ‘could not cope with the isolation’.
Julie Sharrock had struggled with depression in recent years but maintained a close relationship with her sister and her two children.
Yet, her mental health struggles overwhelmed her on September 18, 2020.
That day, Julie wrote a note found by those who would later discover her, saying that she ‘could not cope with the isolation’ and ‘feared going outside’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Julie then went out of contact for several hours and her family became concerned and visited her flat.
At 59-years-old, Julie was found dead at her home in Walkden Road, Wigan, after overdosing on prescription medication.
The death was a ‘tragedy’, heard Bolton Coroners Court at the inquest into Julie’s death on Thursday, February 18.
The mum worked in retail while raising her two children before having a career change, going on to work in the accident and emergency department of the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.
But following a relationship breakdown in 2015, Julie’s fight with dark thoughts became apparent.
Julie’s sister, Karen, found her just in time after a medication overdose in 2016, similar to the act which would eventually take her life some four years later.
Julie was taken to hospital after the 2016 incident, was diagnosed with clinical depression, and she did not work again.
Bolton Coroners Court
Bolton Coroners’ Court (Image: ABNM Photography)
As the pandemic took hold, Karen became worried that her sister ‘was not looking after herself as she did before the Covid-19 lockdown because it added to her anxiety levels’, the court heard.
Julie was finding it hard to do routine shopping, which would leave her in an ‘agitated state’.
Her family continued to stay in contact each day as they had done in the wake of her first suicide attempt – supporting her with calls, texts, and making sure she was online on the Whatsapp messaging service.
The coroner called the death a ‘tragedy’ (Image: ABNM Photography)
Just over a week before Julie’s death, her mother and sister took her out for afternoon tea. Julie ‘didn’t seem to be enjoying it’ as she would normally send pictures to her children, said Karen.
That day, Julie confessed to the pair that ‘she was struggling’.
Her mental health had deteriorated so much that she was ‘struggling to go to the bins and to do household chores’ – not her ‘normal behaviour’, according to Karen.
Nine days after their afternoon tea meeting, Karen was continuing to do her usual checks on Julie, making sure she was online on Whatsapp and calling her for a chat.
On September 18, there was no response.
Julie’s brother-in-law went to the flat to check on her, but found her lying face down on her bed.
He then found a handwritten note on the dining room table.
In the note read out in court, Julie said: “Please forgive me for hurting you. I can’t cope with the isolation – the sweating, the fear of being outside.
“I’m OK when I am out with other people but even going to the bins is difficult.
“I have no quality of life. I can’t and don’t want to go out living here, it used to be my safe haven but now it’s not.
“I just want to go where it is peaceful.”
Julie added that she ‘never wanted to hurt her family’ and that she ‘loved them’.
Investigators found that Julie had taken excessive amounts of prescription medication, including anti-depressants, leading to a medical cause of death of toxicity.
Police confirmed that there was no suspicious activity or third party involvement surrounding the death.
Concluding that Julie’s death was a result of suicide, coroner Alan Walsh said: “From the time of lockdown, her isolation became a great problem.
“Although she did have contact with her family available on a daily basis, and when lockdown restrictions lifted somewhat her family took her out, she felt she was isolated and then she became in fear of the outside.
“It is extremely sad that she felt lonely, isolated and in fear of the outside. I find it a great tragedy that a lady of her age should end her life in these circumstances.”
In a statement read to the court, sister Karen said: “We all miss Julie, she was loved by her family and friends and she will be greatly missed.”