Inquest: Mother found ‘hanging in the air’ planned return to college before her death, inquest hears

Medico Legal Centre, Sheffield.
Tanya Shaw was found dead by her husband on August 31, 2012. Her inquest was heard at the Medico Legal Centre (above) in Sheffield. Photograph by Mike Knapton

A mother whose body was found “hanging in the air” by her husband was planning to return to college, an inquest was told yesterday.

Tanya Shaw, 31, had considered studying English before she was found dead in an airing cupboard at the couple’s home on Beighton Road, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, on August 31.

The mother-of-three was “hanging in the air” when her body was discovered by John Shaw shortly after he woke that morning, Assistant Deputy Coroner for Sheffield David Urpeth told the hearing.

Her three children were sleeping upstairs at the time. No notes were found at the address.

The inquest at the Medico Legal Centre, Watery Street (pictured above), heard Mrs Shaw’s mental health deteriorated after her parents died within months of each other – both from cancer.

She had a history of self-harm spanning decades. She had suffered from depression since childhood after she was abused by her father, a statement by her family doctor read to the court said.

Giving evidence, Mr Shaw, 33, told the inquest that his wife said she was glad her father was dead.

“She was initially grieving with happiness because he had got his comeuppance.” But his death still “played on her mind” and she demanded answers for her abuse, he said.

She despaired of life in the months before her death but he did not believe she would commit suicide.

“She used to say it’s not worth it, life ain’t worth it,” Mr Shaw told the court.

“We all say things we don’t mean sometimes … she had said those things but they’re just words aren’t they?”

‘A troubled life’

She tried to kill herself in 2006 and attempted suicide a number of times by “swallowing things, tablets, drink, drugs”, according to her husband.

But he thought they were little more than a cry for help.

“On this occasion I don’t know what happened … I don’t think the outcome was deliberate,” he said.

“I always got up at that time. With the door being open I would have seen her and would have been able to do something about it.

“I think it was to show me what she was feeling and to stop it but, you know, I wasn’t there.”

The court heard that Mrs Shaw was referred to a mental health service and saw a counsellor on 26 June.

She showed symptoms of family trauma, mood swings and “significant” cannabis use, according to Jacqueline Barker, a mental health social worker.

But there was no reason to believe she was a risk to herself or anyone else, Ms Barker said in a statement read to the court.

Despite the care offered to her, Mrs Shaw cancelled a second appointment and declined further treatment.

Mr Urpeth said: “In my view she did intend to take her own life. It is clear from what I heard and read that she had a troubled life for many years.”

Verdict: Suicide

*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.