A 35-year-old mental health nurse chose to end her life after 12-hour hospital shifts prevented her from having a family.
Leona Goddard just wanted to settle down but found it difficult to have a social life due to extra responsibilities and unpredictable work hours.
Even though her coworkers at Prestwich Hospital in Manchester described her as outstanding, Ms. Goddard’s confidence was low because of long shifts.
It was her mother, Corrine Goodridge, who found her hanging at their home only six months after she was promoted.
A note revealed her ‘negative feelings, a downward spiral and feelings of self loathing.’
The inquest heard that Ms. Goddard studied nursing and psychology even though she wanted to work as an occupational therapist.
“Although she finished the course she never actually enjoyed the role. She felt trapped by qualifications and experience,” said Danielle Hinds, her college friend.
“Leona struggled with shifts she was given and found it difficult to maintain a social life around them.
“She was saving money for a house deposit and she was looking for a home she wanted to live in but didn’t find anything and it was difficult for her to carry out her search because of shifts she was assigned to.
“Over the years we had a few conversations and when she felt at her worst she would make flippant jokes about pills and wine being her way out.”
Ms. Goddard’s ex-boyfriend Peter Schaffer, said at the inquest: “Leona had a wish to have children one day and start a family of her own and no doubt she would have been a great mother.
“But when she was working for the NHS, there was changing shift patterns and she felt frustration at the unpredictability of shifts. A new position was offered to give her new skills and responsibilities. She did want to stay in mental health and the NHS, but in a capacity that would give her more of a social life.
“The only reason she stayed in the job that was not healthy for her was a light at the end of the tunnel. There were many difficulties when she started in the new position and she was left increasing amount of responsibilities, workload, absence of training – and not long after she was signed off work.”
He added: “We had long conversations to try to help her to find other opportunities but over the weeks communication was deteriorating and I ended the relationship.
“She was upset and my intention was to give her space and then have a conversation about it. But tragically she took her own life a week later and that never materialized.”
The ward manager in charge of drug and alcohol issues at the hospital, Clair Hilton, said: “Leona started in June 2016 and was promoted to senior staff nurse in June 2018.
“She was very capable and on August 16 and 17 performed as the duty manager. It was a very challenging time and we did speak after this. Both of us felt she was struggling in a lack of confidence in her own capabilities – although it was not justified. She was more than capable.
“On September 7, I received a call from Leona that she had seen her GP. Her mood was low and she was feeling anxious she was signed off for two weeks. She phoned in September 20 but was not ready to come back and I anticipated another sick note. On the Monday I got a text asking if I was working and if free to meet that day.
“She said she felt low and had not been out of bed for a week beforehand. Her death was a shock for colleagues and patients. She was really valued, rated as outstanding and we had started a memory book with pictures and recollections for her family. We have nothing but fond memories for Leona.”
Coroner Angharad David said: “Leona worked as a nurse in alcohol rehabilitation and recently been promoted to team manager. Colleagues describe her as a bright, clever, caring nurse but it is clear from the evidence that the job role was causing Leona stress because of the difficulties working and the stress of the job itself.
“Also Leona did not share the same views of herself as the colleagues had of her.
“Have considered all the evidence read and heard it seems that Leona was under a great deal of stress going on for a long time. She had very low self esteem and did not recognise in herself the person that everybody else saw.”
Coroner David added: “She was a young woman who made a career helping people who were in trouble. It’s absolutely tragic that she didn’t recognise what a wonderful person she was.”
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