Mum who drowned herself in sea was ‘battling her demons’, inquest hears

The air ambulance was also called to the scene of the suicide at Worthing beach on October 19. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
The air ambulance was also called to the scene of the suicide at Worthing beach on October 19. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

A mother who drowned herself in the sea at Worthing beach was ‘battling her demons’, her son said.

Theresa Town, 57, was seen walking into the sea by members of the public at 9.04am on October 19 and was pulled from the water several minutes later. She was declared dead by paramedics at 10.07am after they tried to revive her.

There is a strong part of me that thinks this was mum battling her illness. I would say it was very much part of mum at that moment in time, and this was her battling her demons and closing the book

Shawn Town

An inquest into the death of Theresa Town was held yesterday (March 23) at Centenary House in Durrington, and coroner Christopher Wilkinson’s conclusion was that Mrs Town took her own life.

The inquest heard how the domestic assistant, who suffered from mental illness, walked for more than half an hour from her home in Clarendon Road to the beach with the intention of killing herself after her husband left for work.

Her son Shawn Town, who was at the inquest, believed she had done so because her brother David drowned at sea and she wanted to die the same way he did.

He said: “My mum wouldn’t have done what she had done by accident.

“There is a strong part of me that thinks this was mum battling her illness. I would say it was very much part of mum at that moment in time, and this was her battling her demons and closing the book.

“When mum was first sectioned, it was a traumatic time for her. I believe she knew this was going to happen again and she didn’t want to be sectioned again. She hated it and I believe she knew that it was a long and winding road for her.”

The inquest heard how Mrs Town had been referred to mental health services seven years ago when she became unwell. She was sectioned and prescribed medication, and her health improved.

In 2015, her mental health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia.

She was given further medication and her health improved, but did not like taking it as it made her sleepy so she asked her GP to lower her prescription.

In October 2016, Mrs Town became restless, getting up in the middle of the night and showing the similar behaviour to her last relapse. Her family tried to get her to see a doctor but she did not believe anything was wrong with her.

Mr Town criticised the healthcare system for allowing his mum’s GP to lower the dosage of her medication without consulting the family.

But Mr Wilkinson said doctors had to judge their patient’s mental capacity to make decisions in the moment, adding it is ‘a difficult problem that I see time and time again’.

“It is always difficult to assess fully someone’s condition unless they are in absolute crisis. In crisis it is absolutely black and white, but if they are not it is very difficult unless they want to engage with mental health services.”

If you would like to speak to Samaritans, call 116 13.

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