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Charity shop manager battled depression for years prior to death

PUBLISHED: 17:14 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:14 31 January 2020

Karl Chilvers, from Little Ellingham, was found dead at the Big C charity shop in Swaffham. Picture: Archant

Karl Chilvers, from Little Ellingham, was found dead at the Big C charity shop in Swaffham. Picture: Archant

Archant

A charity shop manager battled depression for years before being found dead in the shop where he worked.

Karl Chilvers, from Little Ellingham, pictured in 2013, when he was recording music to boost his confidence. Picture: ArchantKarl Chilvers, from Little Ellingham, pictured in 2013, when he was recording music to boost his confidence. Picture: Archant

Karl Graham Chilvers, from Little Ellingham, was found by colleagues in the cellar of the Big C charity shop in Market Place, Swaffham, on October 23.

Despite the efforts of paramedics to resuscitate the 36-year-old, he died a short time later. The medical cause of death was later given as hanging.

In a statement read on her behalf, a co-worker said Mr Chilvers had spent most of the shift using his phone, as was "normal", but was chain smoking which was "unlike him".

During the shift, Mr Chilvers went down to the shop's cellar to prepare for a collection of stock scheduled later on that day.

After 10 minutes passed without Mr Chilvers returning with any stock, his colleague went downstairs and found him doing what she thought was a practical joke.

"I said to him 'very funny', as it was close to Halloween and Karl was such a practical joker," the statement read.

"I went back upstairs expecting him to follow me, but he didn't."

When two other workers arrived for the stock collection, the colleague said Mr Chilvers was downstairs and had played a practical joke on her.

After her colleagues went down to the cellar to help Mr Chilvers, they returned to say it had not been a joke and called 999.

She added: "I just wish I had known what was bothering him and whether there was anything I could have done. We cared a great deal for him."

In a statement read on his behalf, Mr Chilvers' father, Graham, said: "Karl suffered from depression for a long time, which was originally diagnosed when he went to university.

"He seemed to be getting over his depression in 2014 when he started doing photography and started working his way up at Big C to become a manager.

"I saw Karl the night before he died and he didn't appear to be suffering from depression. He didn't tell me or my wife that he had any suicidal thoughts."

On Friday, Mr Chilvers said he had since discovered his son had issues with money and two friends which "caused a large amount of stress" and "could be relevant to his death".

Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, submitted a narrative conclusion in which she said: "Karl Chilvers took his own life but there is no evidence that he intended to do so."

- For help and support, visit norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk. Alternatively, call the Samaritans' 24/7 free helpline on 116123 or visit samaritans.org.

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