Was hanging a cry for help?

A FORMER pilot from Storrington who hanged himself with his own belt in a psychiatric unit may have been making a 'cry for help', an inquest heard.

Brian Davies died on March 29 in the Highdown Unit of Swandean Hospital in Worthing after complaining he could not sleep.

The 69-year-old, of Kithurst Way, suffered from depression and had tried to take his life on two previous occasions. He also had the beginnings of Parkinson's disease.

But West Sussex coroner Roger Stone said on Friday that he could not be sure this was definitely suicide.

"There are other explanations. Is it another cry for help? I have not been able to rule out the fact Mr Davies thought he would be found in time," he said.

An open verdict was recorded.

During the two-day hearing, his widow Anne Davies said her husband's sleeping problems started in 2001 and were the result of a prostate problem.

He had surgery in 2002 but his trouble sleeping continued.

Mrs Davies said: "He was a very happy man. He was always happy and not moody at all.

"He was just very tired the whole time. He just kept saying he did not believe he was depressed. He was just tired."

Mr Davies, who had written and published his own autobiography, admitted himself to Meadowfield on March 13 and was transferred to Highdown, on the same site, later that month.

The inquest was told he made his first suicide attempt in the late summer of 2002.

Mrs Davies said she found a note saying 'he could not go on any longer' and found her husband in a field.

She said: "The paramedic found him lying in the long grass.

"He had taken pills and had also tried to cut his wrists and then tried to stab himself in the heart."

She added: "He said it was like a compulsion. He really wanted to kill himself. He was just driven to it."

He admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Chichester but his sleep problems continued and, in February, he tried to kill himself again by taking a packet of pain killers.

Mrs Davies said: "He could not sleep. He was so agitated, so tired. It was the only way out for him. He just wanted to sleep."

His family broke down when nurses at the mental health unit described how they found him hanging, blocking the door of his room on the morning of March 29.

Nurses and paramedics spent more than 30 minutes trying to resuscitate him but a doctor pronounced him dead at the scene.