Inquest hears of hanging tragedy

AN IPSWICH photographer was found hanging at St Clements Hospital in the town just hours after asking a nurse to kill him, an inquest heard today.

AN IPSWICH photographer was found hanging at St Clements Hospital in the town just hours after asking a nurse to kill him, an inquest heard today.

Christopher Schonbeck, of Finbars Walk in Ipswich had suffered from mental health problems for more than 20 years and died just days before his 41st birthday, on May 14 last year.

St Clement's staff nurse Andrew Palmer told the inquest that he had known Mr Schonbeck for about 20 years - he had met him when he started his nursing career and saw him at several different times.

On the night before his death Mr Schonbeck had been speaking to Mr Palmer and seemed agitated. At one time he had asked the nurse to kill him, but Mr Palmer had told him that was not possible and talked to him about his concerns.

Mr Schonbeck was observed every 15 minutes by staff at the hospital to make sure he was all right in his room.

At 6.15am on May 14 he was seen by two members of staff who saw him in his bed, apparently asleep.

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Five minutes later Mr Palmer checked through the window on the door and saw him hanging from a belt which had been wound around the window.

He called a colleague to hold Mr Schonbeck as he cut him down and then the two of them attempted to revive him.

Staff on the ward attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and attempted to restart his heart until paramedics arrived shortly before 7am.

Further attempts continued in the ambulance and at Ipswich Hospital, but Mr Schonbeck's death was confirmed at 7.30am.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean read evidence from his family who said Mr Schonbeck had had a normal childhood although the family had moved home many times when he was young.

They settled in Ipswich in 1980 and he went to Northgate school, although he did not fit in well and fell in with the “wrong crowd” who introduced him to cannabis which seemed to trigger problems for him.

However he studied photography and was an accomplished sailor, working as a professional crewman on yachts sailing around Britain and France.

The inquest continues.

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