Teacher and 'wonderful woman' took her own life, inquest hears

Norwich Coroners Court. Picture: Anton Kelly

Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

A "wonderful woman" who was a highly regarded teacher took her own life after suffering from a period of mental illness, an inquest has heard.

Catherine Cartwright, 31, died at her home address in Badersfield on August 1, 2020. 

An inquest into her death held at Norfolk Coroner's Court on January 7 heard how Mrs Cartwright, a teacher at Aylsham High School, had previously suffered periods of depression and experienced a particularly stressful event in late 2019 which "deeply affected her".

In February 2020, she suffered an episode of psychosis which lasted around six weeks and which led to her being referred to the mental health crisis team for treatment.

Sally Gardner, an occupational therapist and one of Mrs Cartwright's care co-ordinators, said Mrs Cartwright frequently ruminated about work-life stresses.

While under the care of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust community team Mrs Cartwright underwent several medication reviews and changes in order to try and help her mental health, address side effects and problems sleeping.

When her mood deteriorated she was repeatedly asked if she had any suicidal thoughts and reported thoughts of not wanting to be alive but no active thoughts or plans to take her own life.

Ms Gardner described Mrs Cartwright as a "wonderful woman", and said: "There is no doubt that she was a huge asset to her community, including her workplace, Aylsham High School."

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James Cartwright, Mrs Cartwright's husband, said in the months following his wife's psychosis he supported her by spending time with her, going on daily walks and trying to talk to her about how she was feeling.

Following his wife's death, Mr Cartwright said: "Through this whole period I felt Cat received an excellent level of care."

Mrs Cartwright's medical cause of death was given as hanging.

Closing the inquest, Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, gave a narrative conclusion, and said: "I don't think Cat was of such a state of mind that she was able to appreciate and intend the consequences of her actions. She took her own life, there were suggestions that she was suffering from mental illness that would affect her ability to rationalise her decisions."

If you need help or support, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline on 0808 196 3494 both 24/7. Alternatively download the Stay Alive app, which is backed by Suffolk User Forum, if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else.

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