Body of depressed Asda worker who took his own life in the supermarket was only found THREE days later, inquest hears, after he was ‘let down’ by mental health cutbacks
- Phillip Huntley, 55, had worked at the same Asda in Cornwall for 17 years
- The father took his own life in the shop but wasn’t found by staff for three days
- For help, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org
The body of a depressed Asda worker who took his took his own life in the supermarket was only found three days later and was ‘let down’ by mental health cutbacks, an inquest has heard.
Phillip Huntley had worked at the Asda branch in Bodmin, Cornwall, for 17 years when he took his own life on May 4, the inquest was told.
The father-of-one’s body was found by a colleague three days later. Police were called, customers were evacuated and the shop closed for a day.
The ‘quiet’ 55-year-old – who had become ‘more introverted’ in recent years since a relationship breakdown – was waiting for an appointment to address his depression and anxiety at the time of his death.
Emma Hillson, assistant coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, was informed how Mr Huntley was ‘let down’ by cutbacks in mental health services and ‘could not believe’ the wait time was within the target.
The father had a 25-year history of mental health issues, the inquest into his death heard.
Phillip Huntley, 55, had worked at the same Asda in Cornwall for 17 years
Mr Huntley – who would work from 3am to 11am – had last clocked in for work on Monday, May 1, three days before he was found dead, and this was the last time he was seen on CCTV footage.
Colleagues reported him having left early on that day, which prompted Mr Huntley’s line manager to make a welfare call – but there was no answer.
Further concerns were raised when Mr Huntley did not show up for work the following morning so an employee went to his house to see if he was okay but he was not there.
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The following two days were Mr Huntley’s days off. His body was discovered by a shaken colleague in the staff wellness room, that was rarely used, on the Thursday.
Police were called and the shop temporarily closed but it reopened the next day – a decision which was heavily criticised by locals as putting ‘profit above everything’.
The inquest heard how Mr Huntley had been signed off work with depression twice in the six months leading up to his death.
This was signed off once at the end of 2022 and again in March. He had a 25-year history of mental health issues and had been diagnosed with depression since 2007.
He had self-referred for help on a number of occasions between 2007 and 2023 and more recently, he had reported having ‘severe’ depression, anxiety and signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to his GP alongside suicidal thoughts.
At the time of his death he wasn’t considered ‘high risk’, so he was waiting for assessment with NHS talking therapies at his request.
He had self-referred on March 1 and his appointment for June 3 (three months later) which is within the target wait times for the service.
But assistant coroner Ms Hillson was told how Mr Huntley was ‘let down’ by cutbacks in mental health services and she ‘could not believe’ the wait time was within the target.
Ms Hillson said at his inquest: ‘This is on the basis of his long and documented history of depression and anxiety for which he had sought assistance and was awaiting an appointment,’ The Mirror reported.
Mr Huntley’s father Huw told the inquest he felt GPs can’t determine how at risk patients are on the basis of a phone call and his son should’ve been classed as a high risk patient.
For help, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org
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