‘Stay vigilant’ urges family of tragic Wigan dad

Bolton Coroner's Court
Bolton Coroner's Court
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A Wigan family has urged anyone suffering with depression to seek help, after their “wonderful father and husband” took his own life.

Hans Peter Schickhoff, known to most simply as Peter, died on April 19 at his home in Whitley. He had been diagnosed with clinical depression in 2009 but had been seeking medical help for over a decade.

He was described as a “wonderful father and husband” who showed nothing but “compassion and love for his family” at his inquest, which took place yesterday.

At Bolton Coroner’s Court, his family told Coroner John Pollard that they had been unaware of any significant problems he was suffering with, nor any suicidal thoughts.

The sudden tragedy has prompted his family to speak out about the “invisible” battle of depression, and urge relatives of those suffering to beware the signs of mental illness, which could help prevent the worst from happening.

Mr Schickhoff, 56, had been married to wife Joanne, a teaching assistant, for 32 years, having met in primary school.

The couple had three children, Markus, Nikolas and Ella, and he was a beloved brother of Barbara, Eva-Maria, Regina and Angelika.

The inquest heard that Mr Schickhoff was a hard-working family man, but that the self-described “workaholic” had struggled to maintain a work-life balance.

He had been taking medication for mental health issues for approximately four years, and frequently attended consultations, but had last visited his GP in September 2017.

The inquest was told that Mr Schickhoff, a project manager, had just started a new job three days before his death.

It was his seventh new job since 2015, and it was heard that work stress and his frequently changing employment struggles had played a role in his mental health problems.

Indeed, in the week leading up to his death, Mr Schickhoff had indicated to his son Nikolas that he wasn’t happy with his new job.

Despite his wife Joanne saying he should not carry on if he was unhappy, he decided to keep going, owing to his hard working nature.

“He was driven by a strong need to support his family and work harder,” Mr Pollard said.

Reaching his conclusion, the Coroner said that Mr Schickhoff’s new job had added to a “catalogue of problems” he was already facing and that “this was the only way he could see his way out.”

Following the inquest, a statement from the Schickhoff family said: “Whilst today’s verdict has perhaps brought some closure to this devastating process, we remain at a loss to explain why our beloved Hans Peter chose to take his own life.”

They added: “We would urge those who are suffering with depression - often fought invisibly by those we least expect - to seek help and encourage family and friends to be vigilant for those they care about.”

Samaritans are available to listen at any time.

Call the charity’s free 24/7 helpline on 116 123 or ring 01942 492 222.