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Hadleigh: Woman, 81, drowns in river – daughter thinks mother committed suicide

09:15 15 August 2014

Ip-City Centre in Ipswich

Ip-City Centre in Ipswich

The daughter of an 81-year-old woman thinks she committed suicide because she believed she had the early stages of dementia, an inquest has heard.


Elisabeth Esler, of Duke Street, Hadleigh, was found in a river beside Tinker’s Lane in the town on May 23 at around noon.

Earlier in the day she was reported to police as a missing person after leaving her home.

An apparent suicide note was found saying it was “time for me to go”.

A search discovered Mrs Esler to be floating in the River Brett where she had been for a “considerable time”, the inquest at Ip-City Centre, Ipswich, heard yesterday.

A report by Charlotte Short, one of her daughters, was read out by the assistant coroner for Suffolk, Kevin McCarthy.

He said: “She had short-term memory problems which were a big worry and concern for her.

“She would tell anyone who would listen that she was going potty.

“On several occasions she said that if she was diagnosed with dementia or lost the car she would end her life and would not cope if she could not look after father any more.

“I believe my mother carried it out before she could not do it.”

Mr McCarthy did not fully agree with that view; he added that police had ruled out any “aspect of foul play”.

Summing up he said: “I disagree with her conclusion; in order to find a suicide verdict I have to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the deceased went to end their own life.

“What we have here is an elderly lady who goes out for a walk early in the morning and is later found drowned.”

Mrs Esler was married to Robert, a retired farmer.

Mr McCarthy said the medical reason for death was drowning but recorded an open verdict.

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