Vet groomer killed herself after eye problem made her 'disfigured'
Veterinary worker, 60, who drowned in a lake ‘killed herself after fearing a chronic eye problem made her look “disfigured”’, inquest hears
- Christine Foster, 60, drowned in a lake at Orrell Water Park in Wigan, Manchester
- Bolton Coroner’s Court heard she was suffering with a chronic eye problem
- Several hospitals refused to treat her after failed cyst removal operation in 2020
- She became ‘lonely’ and started to ‘cut people off’ and stopped eating properly
- For confidential support, call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit their website – www.samaritans.org
A woman who drowned in a lake killed herself after fearing a chronic eye problem made her look ‘disfigured’, an inquest has heard.
Christine Foster, 60, was reported missing by her family on November 18 last year, before her body was pulled from the water in Orrell Water Park in Orrell, Wigan, Greater Manchester, the following day.
An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard Ms Foster had been suffering with a chronic eye problem for some time prior to her death.
The hearing was told Ms Foster, who lived in Billinge, Merseyside, underwent an operation on a cyst on her right eye in 2020.
After it failed to resolve the problem, she contacted several other hospitals to see if they would treat her but they refused.
Ms Foster had threatened to end her own life if the issue could not be fixed, the inquest heard.
In the days prior to her death, she told loved ones she could ‘no longer cope’. The knock-back ‘deeply affected’ Ms Foster, says her mother, Rose Shone.
After the UK went into lockdown in 2020, she said Ms Foster’s mental health began to deteriorate further after she was furloughed from her job as a veterinary grooming manager.
Christine Foster, 60 (pictured), from Billinge, Merseyside, who drowned in a lake, killed herself after fearing a chronic eye problem made her look ‘disfigured’, an inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard
Ms Shone said this made her daughter become ‘lonely’ and she started to ‘cut people off’.
When Ms Foster’s workplace eventually reopened, the inquest heard that her position was filled by someone else.
Ms Shone said her daughter was left ‘angry and upset’ by the decision, and started to become increasingly worried about money.
She said she also noticed that her daughter was not eating properly.
Ms Shone said: ‘She was hardly eating anything. I could see this in her physical appearance. She stopped dressing. In the past, she had been very proud of her appearance.’
The inquest heard Ms Foster was referred to mental health services in October last year after she threatened to kill herself if her eye problem was not resolved.
Dr Jaswinder Saini, a consultant psychiatrist at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said that during an assessment Ms Foster had told her the infection was affecting ‘all aspects of her life’.
Dr Saini added that the 60-year-old spoke about wanting another opinion.
She said Ms Foster had reassured her that she had no plans to end her own life and she was therefore deemed to be at ‘low risk’ of suicide.
A plan was then made for a home treatment team to visit Ms Foster two to three times a week.
Samantha Horsfall, a home treatment practitioner at the trust, carried out an assessment with Ms Foster on October 23.
She told the inquest that Ms Foster had appeared ‘fixated’ by her eye and was ‘debilitated by anxiety’.
Ms Horsfall said: ‘She was quite helpless about her situation. She was neglecting herself and was not eating.
‘The anxiety was all-encompassing and she found it very hard to look at anything other than the issues with her eye.’
Ms Foster was reported missing by her family on November 18 last year, only for her body was pulled from the water in Orrell Water Park in Orrell, Wigan, Greater Manchester (pictured), the following day
Ms Horsfall said Ms Foster told her she had contacted a private eye clinic in London and was considering travelling down to see a consultant.
Ms Horsfall said: ‘Christine saw herself as extremely disfigured. She was not, but Christine saw herself differently.’
Several weeks before her death, the inquest heard that Ms Foster was left ‘devastated’ when her beloved dog Grace had to be put down.
Ms Foster’s friend, Christine Milliken, described her as ‘generous’ and ‘animal-mad’ and said the pair spoke several times a day.
During a telephone conversation on November 14, she said Ms Foster had a ‘complete meltdown’.
Ms Milliken said: ‘She was crying and screaming about her eye and said she could not cope with the pain.’
On the evening of November 17, Ms Foster expressed similar concerns during a visit to her mother’s home address.
Ms Shone said: ‘She was crying and said she could no longer cope and her eye was not getting any better.’
When Ms Foster failed to visit her the following day, Ms Shone went to her daughter’s house where she found a note saying goodbye. Police were contacted and a search was launched for Ms Foster.
An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court (pictured) heard Ms Foster had been suffering with a chronic eye problem for some time prior to her death. The hearing was told Ms Foster, who lived in Billinge, Merseyside, underwent an operation on a cyst on her right eye in 2020
Later that evening, officers found her coat and keys next to a lake in Orrell Water Park – a short distance from her home. An underwater search team pulled Ms Foster’s body from the water the following morning.
Pathologist Dr Stephen Wells told the inquest that a post-mortem examination had given her cause of death as ‘drowning’.
He said toxicology results showed Ms Foster had consumed alcohol and the anti-depressant mirtazapine prior to her death, but that he did not believe they had contributed towards her death.
Police coroner’s officer Andrew Pickles told the hearing that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Ms Foster’s death. After being informed of her daughter’s death, Ms Shone said she was ‘not surprised’.
Ms Shone said: ‘When you watch someone over a period of months worsening in every way, to her she had nothing to live for. When the dog died that was the top hat on it.
‘She did not take these decisions overnight. It was over a period of time.’
Dr Lee Roby, a GP at Hall Green Surgery in Upholland, told the hearing that Ms Foster had reported that a cyst on her eye was causing her ‘significant problems’ and that she had seen several specialists about it.
He added that she had been prescribed anti-depressants after being diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder in 2021.
Recording a conclusion of suicide, assistant coroner Rachel Syed said she was satisfied that Ms Foster had intended to take her own life.
Miss Syed said: ‘It’s clear that she submerged herself in the water with a clear intention of ending her own life.
‘There are extensive letters in her own handwriting in which she clearly expressed her intention to end her own life. This was a very well thought out plan by Christine.’
- For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.
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