Tragedy struck in wake of disaster

News story
News story

A WOMAN has told how her partner killed himself just days after she survived a devastating natural disaster in the Philippines.

Simon Barker, who had battled depression since his mid-teens, tried to keep his illness from his family and attempted to seek help just days before his death.

A hearing at Bolton Coroners Court heard how the 45-year-old had been planning to move abroad to join his partner, Jane Duffy, who was working in the Philippines.

But the court was told how a series of natural disasters around the same time as the 10th anniversary of his mother’s death had led him to become increasingly distressed. Firstly, the Philippines was rocked by an earthquake on October 15 last year just before being hit by Typhoon Haiyan on November 8.

Five days later, Mr Barker, of Blackberry Drive, Hindley, was found dead by police after taking an overdose in his garage.

Ms Duffy said: “In just 28 days my whole life fell apart. Simon knew just how much that the country’s devastation had really impacted me.”

She continued: “Simon was very distressed from pictures on the TV from the Philippines and had deeply affected him.”

Ms Duffy told the court how he was also extremely close to his mum before she died suddenly from cancer, five days after her diagnosis.

She added: “He never quite got over her death.”

The hearing heard that Mr Barker had spoken to relatives and his partner just two days before his death. He had appeared fine, talking about day-to-day activities.

But his sister, Linda Barker, told the court that she had concerns that she thought he had been drinking heavily when she spoke to him on the phone on November 10, which he denied. She was the last person to speak to him.

Ms Duffy raised the alarm when she hadn’t been able to contact him for two days.

The salesman had suffered from depression and had been receiving treatment since the age of 15.

He had also suffered from a heart attack many years before.

On November 8 Mr Barker attended Alexander House doctors surgery in Platt Bridge asking for help with his ongoing illness.

Coroner Alan Walsh heard how he had twice previously attempted to commit suicide more than 10 years ago.

And in more recent times he had run up more than £6,000 worth of online gambling debts which Ms Duffy had assured him she would clear.

In a suicide note left to his partner, Mr Barker explained how he had wanted to end his life for more than a year.

Recording an open verdict, the coroner confirmed the cause of death as an overdose as well as heart disease.