Former Keighley school worker was found hanged in her home

Sarah O’Neill, who was found dead at home

Sarah O’Neill, who was found dead at home

First published in News

Mystery still surrounds why a hugely popular former school worker hanged herself.

Sarah O’Neill, 42, who worked at Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley, had struggled with depression for about a decade.

But in a statement read out to the inquest this week, her devastated daughter, Kirsty Thompson, said: “I have no idea why she took her own life.”

Mrs O’Neill was found dead last December by her husband, Christopher, at their home in Hebden Road, Haworth.

The inquest in Bradford on Tuesday heard Mrs O’Neill, who had been prescribed anti-depressants, had been worried about her husband, who had developed cancer, and about getting the sack for taking so much time off sick.

She had stopped taking the anti-depressants about four weeks before her death. She had not asked her doctor for a repeat prescription of her medication and had been missing appointments.

On the night she died, Mrs O’Neill had been to the Crossroads Inn drinking with Miss Thompson, and Mrs O’Neill’s husband later joined them.

Miss Thompson said she had already returned home drunk when her mum arrived alone and seemed to be “angry”.

“I presumed she had argued with Chris,” she said.

“I told her to get a grip and went back to bed.”

Later, Miss Thompson heard her stepdad return from his night out and go upstairs, where he discovered her mother’s body.

In a statement read to the hearing, Miss Thompson also said her mother and stepdad had only argued about petty things, but that her mother had suffered with depression.

“She used to be a heroin addict, and when she got clean about ten years ago, she became depressed,” she added.

Mr O’Neill said his wife had stopped working after he became ill, but they had no issues between them as a couple.

Despite Mrs O’Neill’s long-term anxiety, she had never self-harmed or tried to take her life before, but she had battled with bouts of depressions between 2001 and 2008, the inquest was told.

Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell recorded a verdict that Mrs O’Neill had killed herself.

St James’s Church in Cross Roads was packed for her funeral in January this year, when moving tributes from her sister and daughter sparked a spontaneous standing ovation from the congregation.

While at Holy Family School, she had been a popular access officer working with children with autism, pupils recovering from accidents and youngsters with dyspraxia, a condition that impairs physical co-ordination.

She was remembered as loving her daughter “beyond measure”, always having a smile on her face and having a fantastic sense of humour.

Miss Thompson said she “couldn’t find words” to describe the special relationship she had with her mother.

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