Was Danielle’s death a cry for help?

Danielle Birchmore
Danielle Birchmore

A rugby player found dead in her Wigan Pier home in the early hours of New Year’s Eve may not have intended to take her own life, an inquest heard.

Danielle Birchmore, 27, who was described as a “happy” and “extroverted” young woman, was found hanged just days after Christmas in 2016.

Danielle Birchmore

Danielle Birchmore

The inquest, at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how Ms Birchmore, had struggled after breaking up with her girlfriend, Ellis, six months prior in June.

She had a long history of both anxiety and depression, and had sought medical treatment after she began having suicidal thoughts in July last year.

Coroner Mr Alan Walsh heard evidence from Ms Birchmore’s parents Donna and Paul describing how their daughter’s anxiety had begun at the age of 18, before progressively worsening following a head trauma she received on a holiday to Benidorm.

They told the court how she had been her “normal self” over the Christmas period and that she was due to spend New Year’s Eve at their home. She had also found out that Ellis had recently become engaged to a new partner, but she had not told them this information.

I am not sure she intended to end her life

Alan Walsh

“All the time between she didn’t come across as she was depressed,” said Mrs Birchmore. “I even spoke to her that night at about 10pm. She had just started drinking and she promised she wouldn’t drink a lot.”

Ms Birchmore, who was a keen rugby player for St Patrick’s RL Club, had identified that her mood worsened during periods of drinking alcohol. She also had problems sustaining her medication, which is believed to have made her depression and anxiety worse at times.

Her mum explained that rugby and boxing had improved her symptoms of depression over the months prior to her death.

On the night leading up to her death, Ms Birchmore had been drinking in Wigan town centre with her friend Mark Collier, who she met at Team Kaobon Boxing in Wigan.

Heritage Way, Wigan - where Danielle Birchmore died

Heritage Way, Wigan - where Danielle Birchmore died

Mr Collier told the coroner that there was no reason to believe she would harm herself or take her own life.

“She didn’t seem really upset,” he said, talking about Ms Birchmore’s relationship break down. “She would just talk about it a lot.”

During the night out, Mr Collier said that Ms Birchmore “seemed to be enjoying herself” and was dancing on the pole at Mortimer’s nightclub.

After the night out, Ms Birchmore posted to Facebook that 2016 had got “the better of her”, sparking her aunty, Linda Corner, to ring her at around 2am and tell her she would drive to see her straight away.

On arriving at the flat 10 minutes later, Ms Corner could not gain access and returned home. She saw a Facebook post from her niece thanking everyone for their help and immediately called 999 and then Ms Birchmore’s parents to say she was worried something may have happened.

Officers and paramedics arrived at the scene at around 3.45am and CPR was performed for around 90 minutes both in the ambulance and at Wigan Infirmary where she was pronounced dead just after 5am on December 31.

An autopsy revealed ligature marks and an alcohol level of 176 micrograms, almost three times the drink driving limit.

Despite this the pathologist could not confirm whether this would have had an impact on her state of mind.

Mr Walsh told the family: “I don’t believe the family could have given her greater support.

“I don’t believe there was anything you could have done to prevent her death.

“I am not sure she intended to end her life.

“She may have taken actions when her judgment was impaired.

“The fact that she knew her aunt was on her way.

“It may well have been she took actions in the spur of the moment in a situation where it was not a balanced judgement.”

He added that Ms Birchmore’s death was a “tragic loss” that was caused by hanging although her intentions were unclear.