The prospect of a slow descent into ill health prompted 92-year-old Shirley Brown to take her own life, an inquest has decided.
The wartime Wren and retired civil servant was found floating in a pond at Clackers Brook Farm, Bromham, by her son, David, on May 25 last year. A post-mortem examination found she had drowned.
David Brown told assistant deputy coroner Ian Singleton at the inquest in Salisbury last Thursday that his mother was “nothing less than a wonderful lady who valued her independence extremely”.
Mrs Brown, who lived in Corsham, frequently visited her son and his family in Bromham. She had been in good health until early last year when she started sleeping badly and her eyesight began to fail. As a result, she was unable to enjoy her love of the arts.
Mr Brown said: “She read avidly and used to do the Daily Telegraph crossword, but that was lost to her.”
Mrs Brown had made a previous attempt to take her life, the inquest heard.
Two days before her death, Mr Brown visited her at Corsham and found her lying on the floor, having taken an overdose of sleeping tablets.
She had scribbled on both arms in ballpoint ink ‘DNR’ – do not resuscitate.
On the day of her death, Mrs Brown was visiting Clackers Brook Farm with her family. She seemed in good spirits when Mr Brown left to take his grandsons home to Bradford on Avon.
He said she had agreed to talk that evening about going to Dignitas, the Swiss clinic where terminally ill patients can self-administer a lethal cocktail of drugs.
He told Mr Singleton: “From that conversation I did not expect to find what I did when I got home. I looked around the house and there was no sign of her. Then I had a premonition and I walked down to the lake. She was lying face up about three or four feet from the bank.”
Although the emergency services were called, it was clear Mrs Brown had died.
Mr Singleton said he was satisfied Mrs Brown had taken her own life. Mr Brown thanked the emergency services for their kindness and professionalism.