Mental Health Nurse Killed Herself After Struggling With Stress of Job Promotion: Inquest

November 21, 2019 Updated: November 21, 2019

A “bright and caring” British nurse took her own life after after struggling with the stress of working 12-hour hospital shifts, the Daily Mail reported.

Leona Goddard, 35, was found dead in her home in Manchester, United Kingdom, by her mother, Corrine Goodridge, on Oct. 3 last year, just six months after she had been promoted to senior staff nurse.

The mental health nurse, who graduated from the University of Manchester in 2012, had left a handwritten note behind which detailed her negative feelings toward her life.

An inquest into Goddard’s death found that she had been suffering from low self-esteem due to her long hours and felt she had little support in her new role.

One of her former work colleagues, Sianne Donovan, said Goddard’s shift pattern had played a big factor in her unhappiness, and she had been actively searching for other jobs.

A doctor’s report which was read at the inquest explained that Goddard had been to see her GP in the weeks leading up to her death and was offered antidepressants but had declined them.

Leona’s mother said that her daughter’s job had involved treating patients with drug and alcohol issues at the Chapman Barker Unit at Prestwich Hospital, but that she had been in “two minds” about accepting her promotion six months earlier.

“I was not sure if she was feeling positive about it. The shift work in particular got her down as she did a 12-hour shift. Leona had not had any long-term steady relationship and the most recent one ended by text message,” she said.

Goodridge said that no one had realized that her daughter was feeling sad and depressed, adding: “Her death has affected the whole family deeply. All miss her, asking why this happened.”

Meanwhile Goddard’s ex-boyfriend Peter Schaffer, who ended their relationship a week before her death, said she had hoped to start a family of her own despite her hectic work schedule.

Speaking at the inquest, he said: “Leona had a wish to have children one day and start a family of her own and no doubt she would have been a great mother. But when she was working for the NHS, there was changing shift patterns and she felt frustration at the unpredictability of shifts.

“A new position was offered to give her new skills and responsibilities. She did want to stay in mental health and the NHS, but in a capacity that would give her more of a social life.”

Schaffer continued: “There were many difficulties when she started in the new position and she was left increasing amount of responsibilities, workload, absence of training—and not long after she was signed off work. We had long conversations to try to help her to find other opportunities but over the week’s communication was deteriorating and I ended the relationship.”

Claire Hilton, a ward manager in charge of drug and alcohol issues at Prestwich Hospital, said that Goddard had been “very capable” in her new role and performed as the duty manager on Aug. 16 and 17.

“It was a very challenging time and we did speak after this. Both of us felt she was struggling in a lack of confidence in her own capabilities—although it was not justified. She was more than capable,” she said.

Hilton said that Goddard had called her on Sept. 7, informing her that she had been to see a doctor as her mood was low and she had been suffering from anxiety. She was signed off work for two weeks, but by Sept. 20 she was still not ready to come back to work.

“She said she felt low and had not been out of bed for a week beforehand. Her death was a shock for colleagues and patients,” Hilton added.

Police coroners officer Marie Logan confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Leona’s death, adding that the note she left behind indicated she had been suffering from low self-esteem and depression and had struggled to cope with her recent promotion.

“These feelings were born out of her—rather than by other people. She was seen as very much a clever, caring, and very competent nurse and her colleagues felt the promotions as justified as she was more than capable,” Logan said.

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For those living anywhere else, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide can provide contact details for suicide help.