Wigan army veteran working to turn his life around died after alcohol relapse

An army veteran working to overcome his dependence on alcohol took his own life after relapsing, an inquest heard.
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Wayne Lowe, who lived in Ashton, had been working with drug and alcohol service We Are With You, attended a detoxification programme and returned to work in the months before he died.

But an inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard he left his job and started drinking again last summer.

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Mr Lowe, 51, was found dead on August 13 in a secluded part of Viridor Woods in Ashton – somewhere he regularly went to camp to escape his troubles, before returning home when he felt calmer. A note expressing his intent was discovered nearby.

A post-mortem examination concluded he died by hanging. While tests showed he had consumed alcohol at double the drink-drive limit and therapeutic levels of medication, these were not thought to have contributed to his death.

The inquest heard Mr Lowe joined the army as a soldier when he was a teenager and left around 17 years later, before going to work in adult care.

He struggled with his mental health at times, attempting suicide in 2005 and taking anti-depressants after reporting he felt low in mood.

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Mr Lowe also developed a dependence on alcohol, consuming up to eight cans of strong lager and a bottle of vodka each day.

The court heard Mr Lowe was referred to We Are With You in August 2021, received support from a veterans’ group and reduced his alcohol intake.

He attended a 10-day detox in March 2022 and was then due to attend a rehabilitation programme, but did not feel it suited him.

Instead, he looked at doing rehab at Greenslate Farm in Orrell, before deciding he wanted to return to work instead.

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Hannah Houghton, from We Are With You, told the coroner Mr Lowe seemed to be making progress and wanted to rebuild relationships with his sons.

But she was not aware he had left his job and had relapsed, with Mr Lowe denying he was drinking when they spoke on August 1.

The inquest was told of an incident on February 1 when Mr Lowe’s application for personal independence payments (PIP) was declined. He was told to reapply in four weeks and said he would not be there then.

Police were contacted amid concerns for his welfare and senior nurse practitioner Natalie Marland went to see him with an officer.

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Mr Lowe told her his comment had been made in “frustration” as he had financial difficulties, and he denied wanting to harm himself.

He spoke to a mental health practitioner on August 1 about problems he was facing and relapsing. He did not appear suicidal and they discussed possible solutions to his issues, the court heard.

Coroner Stephen Teasdale recorded Mr Lowe died by suicide. He said that after his “really remarkable recovery” from alcohol dependence, he decided to take his life after his sobriety and employment ended.

If you need to speak to someone, call Samaritans on 116 123.

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