AN Oxford University lecturer who was found dead at home was struggling with ‘severe deterioration’ of her mental health months before her death, an inquest has heard.

Jennifer Abbott, 48, died at her home in Meadow Lane, Chipping Norton, on January 19 this year following struggles with anxiety.

An inquest was held into her death at Oxford Coroner’s Court on Tuesday (April 30) where coroner Nicholas Graham ruled her death was one of suicide.

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He said: “This is a tragic case concerning the death of Jennifer Abbott.

"The evidence from her husband and GP shows a severe deterioration in her mental health.

“I’m going to rule a medical cause of death as hanging and record a short-form conclusion of suicide.”

The inquest heard that Mrs Abbott, who was an English lecturer at Oxford University’s Exeter College, had started having issues with anxiety in October last year.

She first made an appointment with her GP in early November where she reported feeling anxious but couldn’t identify any triggers for it, the court heard.

The lecturer was struggling with sleep and a lack of appetite.

The inquest was told her GP recommended a hormonal treatment as well as talking therapy.

Her GP described her as appearing ‘tremulous’.

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She had tried to resign from the university but her employers could ‘see she was stressed’ and signed her off on sick leave instead with the hope she would return after Christmas.

However, despite the hormone treatment, her mental health continued to deteriorate and she began ‘catastrophising’ over ‘minor things’.

Her doctor instead prescribed her anti-depressants and she was referred to the psychology team.

In early December, she told her doctor she had stopped taking the medication and was expressing thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

The inquest heard her GP was concerned and she was referred to the adult crisis team for an emergency appointment and she began having appointments with them.

However, on the afternoon of January 19, her husband received a call from Mrs Abbott’s therapist saying she was not answering the door.

Her husband was concerned and came home from work at about 2.45pm and found Mrs Abbott hanging.

The emergency services were called and resuscitation attempts were made for about 40 minutes.

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Concluding the inquest, Mr Graham said: “I know it can seem perhaps rather formal [these proceedings] but I’m sure, with others, that you are all suffering deeply from her loss, both the students she taught, her friends and yourself Mr Abbott – your family and wider family.

“And I offer my condolences to you.”


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