Suicide ‘nightmare’ as family’s pleas for help unanswered

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The suicide of an aircraft maintenance manager has sparked concerns about families seeking help from mental health authorities.

Paul Villa, 49, hanged himself on July 3 outside his mother’s home in Clayton, Hassocks, where he lived after his marriage broke down in December 2015.

At the inquest into his death, coroner Chris Wilkinson believed Mr Villa took his own life after ‘suffering an acute and overwhelming sense of anxiety’ fuelled by alcohol.

Toxicology reports showed he was two-and-a-half times over the driving limit when he died.

The inquest heard how Mr Villa had worked for Virgin Atlantic and his father’s company Apollo Aviation in Shoreham Airport.

Rustington-born Mr Villa suffered from anger issues, anxiety and alcohol abuse due to the stress of his job and the separation from his wife Debora.

Mrs Villa, 49, got a non-molestation order against her husband in April after he threatened to kill himself in front of her and her son.

The translator met Mr Villa in 1992, and the pair had two children together. She said in the last three years of his life, he was ‘irrational’, ‘abusive’ and ‘obsessive’, waking up in the night ‘shouting and screaming’ about grievances like his colleagues.

She added: “He would make it his mission to make that person’s life a misery.”

The police were called several times leading up to his death, once when he tried to overdose on ibuprofen tablets, and again when he went missing after leaving a suicide note.

They were called again on June 19 to The Priory Hospital in Hove, where Mr Villa was being privately treated for adjustment disorder.

His family took him there hoping he could be reassessed, but he became abusive and would not enter.

The inquest heard how Paul’s father Peter Villa made several phone calls to get help for his son following this incident.

But he was bounced between agencies after a call to a West Sussex County Council mental health careline was not referred to the NHS.

Mr Wilkinson said the mistake was unlikely to have caused Mr Villa’s death, but the family’s inability to speak to the right professional ‘was not good enough’ and he would be filing reports to the county council and the NHS.

Daryl Hitchings, manager of the council’s mental health service, said: “It sounds like an absolute nightmare and it is a common story.”

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