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By Jess Bauldry
8:29pm Tuesday 30th October 2007
A mother fell to her death as a passer-by tried in vain to pull her back from a cliff top.
Prenatal class teacher Jacqueline Franklin plunged from Beachy Head cliffs despite Marilyn Wilson battling to pull her back up by the hood of her coat.
An inquest at Eastbourne today heard how Mrs Wilson had spotted the depressed mother-of-one on the cliff edge and tried to talk her out of taking her own life.
But 45-year-old Mrs Franklin, of Fletcher Avenue, St Leonards, faced the sea and did not reply.
Mrs Wilson alerted a young couple who contacted the emergency services before returning to try to help Mrs Franklin.
She said: “As I returned I sat down a short way behind the woman. I said I could help. I tried to take her hand but she pushed me away. She appeared to slowly edge forwards by shuffling her feet.
“Then I saw her lose her footing and she fell down over the cliff. I grabbed the hood of her coat but I couldn’t help her.
“She then went out of view over the cliff.”
The inquest, at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court, heard that Mrs Franklin fell 180 feet from the cliff top.
Pathology reports revealed she died from injuries sustained in the fall.
The inquest heard Mrs Franklin had a history of mental health issues dating back to her childhood.
She had received treatment for depression and anxiety since 1997 when she was diagnosed with post-natal depression.
Her situation was further aggravated during the following years after she separated from her husband, Ian Franklin, and then later when her boyfriend moved back to Australia.
Mrs Franklin, who was born in Australia, spent two months at Woodlands Psychiatric Unit, at The Conquest Hospital, in Hastings.
She was discharged from the unit less than two weeks before her death on January 29, 2007.
While a voluntary patient there Mrs Franklin attempted to cut her wrists.
Occupational therapist Nicola Medhi told the inquest the cuts left her with superficial scratches and were not thought to have been a suicide attempt.
Ms Medhi saw Mrs Franklin a week before her death after she had been discharged from the hospital. Mrs Franklin told her she was at “rock bottom” and all her thoughts led to “one thing”.
But the clinical specialist said she did not think she would take her own life.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Shakil Malik told the inquest Mrs Franklin was taking anti-depressants and treatments for insomnia but had high self-esteem.
East Sussex deputy coroner Joanna Pratt entered a verdict of suicide.
She said: “From everything I have heard Mrs Franklin was blessed to have incredibly supportive family and friends.
“But I am satisfied she took her own life and the only verdict I can enter is one of suicide.”
In a statement read at the inquest Mrs Franklin was described by her sister, Mary-Anne Pitman, who lives in Canada, as a bright, capable intelligent woman, who worked hard and achieved all she set out to do.
She said: “She was very caring and big-hearted and wanted to fix everything for everyone and make everything right.”
Husband Ian Franklin said after the inquest: “She was just a very special person and it’s sad that this has happened.”