Cliff death man, 42, had history of mental illness

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A 42-YEAR-OLD Somerset man who travelled to Beachy Head to take his life had a long history of mental health problems.

Christopher Dick, of Millstream Gardens in Tonedale, Wellington, died when he jumped from the notorious suicide spot and landed on a ledge 80 feet down.

An inquest into his death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday (July 28).

Coroner Alan Craze was told Mr Dick was a loner who had not worked since 1999. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had been in regular contact with mental health services in Somerset for many years.

He was spotted at the top of Beachy Head by a chaplain, Nicola Hardy, who was patrolling the area on the afternoon of January 17.

Mrs Hardy said, “He seemed agitated so I explained I was a chaplain. I asked if he was feeling depressed and he said, ‘yes I am’. I then asked if he felt suicidal and he said, ‘I would say so’.”

Mrs Hardy stepped back to try and encourage him to move away from the edge but he glanced over his shoulder before running and jumping off the cliff. His body was recovered by coastguards.

Community psychiatric nurse Richard Cross said, “I was so surprised. The last time I saw him he was animated and brighter.”

Mr Craze said there was nothing the mental health team in Somerset could have done to prevent Mr Dick’s death.

“This was an observed jump and there is no scope for any doubt whatsoever about his intention to take his life,” said Mr Craze.

He recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed.