'Kind and caring' man who took his own life 'could not live with his anxiety'

Eddie Gregg and his niece's dog Harry

Eddie Gregg and his niece's dog Harry

First published in News
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St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A 76-year-old "kind and caring" Harpenden man took his own life after battling with a ongoing severe anxiety disorder and alcohol problem, an inquest heard.

Eddie Gregg, a retired mechanic and furniture restorer, was found hanged in his garage at his home in Marquis Lane on Tuesday, November 12, last year. He was discovered by his next door neighbour.

A mix of severe anxiety and alcohol problems turned in to a "vicious cycle" after Mr Gregg voluntarily gave up his driving licence because of his medical condition and two failed suicide attempts, Hertfordshire Coroners Court heard on Wednesday.

Giving evidence during the inquest, Dr Michael Walker, who met Mr Gregg after he tried to take his own life at home in 2008 said Mr Gregg could not live with his anxiety.

He said: "Eddie was a very sensitive person. He was a great character and he was always fun to meet - lively, communicative and an intelligent man. He would always joke to me about how he covered his feelings well.

"I tried to tell Eddie he would have to live with his anxiety. But Eddie couldn’t live with his anxiety and he saw it is as though it must be abolished by a special mechanism."

Dr Walker explained that Mr Gregg was a very anxious man, who used alcohol as a way to stop his anxiousness.

An "early and unhappy" retirement, through being made redundant and growing anxiety about his brother’s deteriorating health and move to Cornwall from Northolt, Middlesex was said to be the main reasons for his anxiousness.

Speaking to Mr Gregg’s wife Mavis and brother-in-law Paul Brenson, Coroner Edward Thomas said: "This was a vicious circle of anxiety and alcohol. Because of his illness he couldn’t see what was good about himself.

"To get his licence back, he would have to prove that he hadn’t drunk in six months, and then this made him feel anxious, so then he would drink and then this would upset those around him and he would feel disappointed in himself.

Mr Gregg was transferred to Lambourne Grove hospital, St Albans, in 2008, where he attempted to take his own life for the second time in the toilet. The court heard that Mr Gregg felt as though "he was never going to leave" and found it difficult to be in hospital with patients, suffering with physical disabilities and dementia.

Post mortem results showed Mr Gregg had died of asphyxia and no signs of alcohol.

Mr Thomas concluded: "I have no doubt that Eddie’s severe anxiety and depressive disorder caused his death. Without that he would not have took his own life.

"He sounds like such a nice man, who didn’t have much confidence.

"I think he must have found being in hospital in 2008 extremely difficult, I think he must have thought that at some stage this is what he was going to be like.

"I am very impressed by his supportive family and particularly impressed with the actions of your neighbour Alan, who attempted to save Eddie’s life."

Mr Brenson added: "Eddie could not cope with the modern pace of life."

The court heard that Mr Gregg was a "practical man", good with his hands and particularly interested in restoring old vintage cars.

Married for 48 years, Mr and Mrs Gregg met on Christmas Eve in 1962 and later married on New Year's Day in 1966. The pair lived in the Harpenden bungalow since 1969.

Mrs Gregg, a retired shop assistant, paid tribute to her "compassionate" husband.

She said: "Eddie was a good person-kind and caring and always ready to help if he could. He just wanted to make people smile.

"He had great compassion for animals. He rescued and saved many over the years, nursing them back to health and finding new homes for them.

"When he became unwell he found it so difficult to cope and it’s so sad his depressive illness took his life. Mental illness is a hidden illness and more funding is needed for research to help other people like Eddie.

"Me and his family and friends are missing him so much and have lost a dear and very special person."

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