Footballer dies at Beachy Head after battle with depression

The inquest was held at Eastbourne Town Hall
The inquest was held at Eastbourne Town Hall

Footballer Andrew Leng took his own life at Beachy Head after two years of battling depression and suicidal thoughts, an inquest heard today.

Andrew, 36, of Hertford Road, Brighton, was described as ‘an outgoing person with many interests’ by his father Phillip Leng, who told the court of Andrew’s love of music, history and sport, in particular five-a-side football.

He was found by lifeboat crews at Beachy Head on August 20 last year.

In a statement read by coroner Alan Craze, Mr Leng said he had no doubt that Andrew intended to take his own life, having left funeral arrangements and having mentioned Beachy Head on many occasions thoughout his illness.

The inquest heard Andrew had been receiving treatment for depression and anxiety since 2016, and his condition deteriorated with periods of having suicidal thoughts and excessive ruminations that could border on psychosis.

He had also been troubled by difficulties securing work as a graphic designer, the court heard.

Andrew was treated with a variety of medication and cognitive behavioural therapy and supported by a number of mental health services, which he and friends and family would ask for help.

The inquest heard Andrew had a short admission to hospital on account of his mental health and on one occasion, he was found at Beachy Head by police, who took him home in custody.

Dr Nigel Bird, a GP who saw Andrew on August 17, said he ‘was obviously ruminating about what had gone wrong for him, he had had sucidal thoughts and been to Beachy Head the previous week’.

He added that Andrew had had stopped taking one of his medications completely rather than reducing it as planned.

On August 19, emergency services were called by a friend of Andrew’s who had received a text message indicating that he intended to take his own life at Beachy Head and that he was sorry.

Detective Seargent Julie Sapwell said Andrew was considered a high risk missing person and police were called but fog made searching difficult and his body was recovered by lifeboat crews.

Andrew’s father Phillip Leng said his son had loved music and played guitar, and enjoyed visiting castles and stately homes. He was a regular churchgoer and used to help feed the homeless at St Peter’s in Brighton and help with the computer system at St Matthias, Brighton, where 250 people attended his funeral last year.