Singer dies after falling from Eastbourne cliffs

An inquest into Hannah Northedge's death was held on February 7 at Eastbourne Town Hall
An inquest into Hannah Northedge's death was held on February 7 at Eastbourne Town Hall

A singer and actress who struggled with “debilitating” chronic pain died after plunging from Eastbourne cliffs.

Hannah Northedge, 43, had a successful career which included starring alongside Elijah Wood and singing in front of the Queen – but in the last months of her life her condition rapidly deteriorated.

In a statement read at an inquest into her death today (February 7), her parents Ray and Susan Northedge said she became ill at the beginning of 2018.

They said, “Her condition progressed to sensations of pain and discomfort, it was debilitating for her and out of character as she usually had so much energy.”

Normally enjoying creative pursuits such as singing in a jazz band, composing her own music, and being a vocal coach, Hannah was confined to her bed and did not leave her flat for work or social events, her parents said.

She was particularly concerned, they said, about the lack of a diagnosis of what was wrong with her.

The inquest heard an in-depth report from her GP Victoria Mayhew, who said Hannah “thought that her life was over and she was dying” and was fixated on the possibility of an “undiagnosed terminal illness”.

She had numerous blood tests and scans checking for ailments including hormone issues, skin problems, abdominal pain, fatigue, eye problems, fibromyalgia, sinusitis, neurological problems, chest pains, suspected Lyme disease and TMJ disorder.

But the inquest heard no formal diagnosis was made of any underlying health condition which could explain her suffering.

Dr Mayhew said she suspected Hannah’s symptoms were psychosomatic – made worse by mental health issues – and said she recommended she take antidepressants and speak to a mental health team.

Then one day she left her south London flat and travelled to Eastbourne.

Her family reported her missing on May 2, 2018.

The inquest heard she stayed at the Grand Hotel and ate at the Tiger Inn in East Dean.

Tragically, her body was found at the foot of the cliffs at Beachy Head on May 3 last year.

She left behind suicide notes and funeral arrangements, the inquest heard.

Coroner Alan Craze said described the events as “awful” and “disastrous”. Though he said, “It’s abundantly clear that the GP system she received was absolutely first class. There isn’t any doubt about that.

“So much time and effort was made on her behalf. It’s clear precisely what was going on.

“Very sadly and tragically Miss Northedge clearly was suffering from a rapidly increasing mental disorder, and took the decision to bring her life to an end.”

He said she had an “inability to accept the physical health evidence that there wasn’t anything dangerously wrong with her”.

He concluded she died by suicide, and expressed his sympathies to her family and friends.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.