Nurse raped by family friend as a child killed herself after suffering flashbacks triggered by finding her abuse story she told to a magazine five years ago
- Chantelle Wood, 22, stabbed herself after suffering flashbacks, inquest told
- The mother-of-one was raped by a ‘family friend’ when she was a teenager
- She was ‘very distressed’ in the days prior to her death in August last year
- Family said old magazine article detailing her abuse triggered behaviour
- Coroner in Exeter, Devon, recorded open verdict due to lack of evidence
Tragic: Chantelle Wood, 22, took her own life in August last year
A nurse who was raped by a family friend when she was younger killed herself after suffering harrowing flashbacks of the ordeal, an inquest has heard.
Chantelle Wood, 22, stabbed herself after re-discovering a magazine article from 2009 in which she told of the abuse she suffered when she was a teenager.
The mother of one, from Exeter in Devon, died in hospital six days later from brain injuries and a heart attack brought on as a result of the stab wounds.
Her mother Caroline Wills told the coroner that her daughter suddenly became ‘ill and stressed’ in the months leading up to her death in August last year.
She said: ‘She started talking to me about flashbacks, when she was raped four times by a family friend.
‘She started talking to me about what happened to her. She was very distressed and could not concentrate on her work properly.
‘She was beautiful and bubbly and had a three-year-old son. She had a very good job as an auxiliary nurse at the hospital. She had lots of friends and loved her job so much.’
Mrs Wills said her daughter did not take up counselling after she was raped, when she was aged between 12 and 14, because she was strong and ‘put it behind her’.
However, she started suffering flashbacks to the abuse after finding an old magazine, which she had told her story to, while re-decorating her bedroom last year.
Her family said it was the trigger for her rapid decline with her mother, describing her daughter as ‘very distressed’ in the days leading up to her death.
She said: ‘She was a normal bubbly girl bringing up her son and had not spoken for a long time about what had happened to her.’
Mrs Wills said she was shocked when her daughter came downstairs and told her she wanted to kill herself.
‘I was so shocked. She had never said anything like that before,’ she said.
‘She had had a lot of flashbacks.‘
Mrs Wills immediately took her to see the family’s GP, Dr Alice Godwin, who prescribed anti-depressants and contacted the mental health crisis team.
Dr Godwin told the inquest, held in Exeter, Devon, today, that she was happy with the crisis team’s response saying Miss Wood had no previous history of suicidal thoughts or behaviour and was unlikely to harm herself because of her young son Charlie.
Mental health practitioner Chris Porteus said Miss Wood wasn’t seen face-to-face by one of the team and said that decision was ‘taken on clinical grounds’ and ‘not because it was easier’.
Assistant coroner Andrew Cox recorded an open conclusion at County Hall in Exeter, Devon, saying there was not enough evidence to record a suicide verdict
He said the crisis team had limited resources and said the decision to see her within 24 hours was sufficient ‘at that point in time’.
He said: ‘She denied suicidal thoughts. I was aware of the child sex abuse. I did everything I could to help her. She had never self-harmed or attempted suicide in her life.
‘It is unlikely she intended to kill herself.’
He said it was the first time in his 42 years’ experience he had appeared before a coroner’s court.
Two of Miss Wood’s sisters told the coroner she was also troubled by other issues, including concerns about her rapist being released and child care issues with her ex-partner.
Whitney Lewis said her sister had recently received a letter telling her that the person convicted of raping her was going to be ‘out on parole sometime soon’.
She said: ‘She was upset about it. She was worried about him coming after her.’
‘This is an absolutely tragic case, deeply sad’
– Assistant coroner Andrew Cox
Detective Sergeant Adrian Hawkins said the letter from the Probation Service to Miss Wood had led her to believe the rapist was to be released in 2005 – when in fact it was 2015 before he could seek parole.
He said: ‘The way it was worded sounded like he was going to be released from jail.’
In fact it was telling her he was being moved to another jail, he said.
Miss Wood’s other sister, Danielle, said the victim was feeling down in the days leading up to her death citing child care issues and concerns about the way she looked.
Assistant coroner Andrew Cox recorded an open conclusion saying there was not enough evidence to record a suicide verdict.
He said: ‘This is an absolutely tragic case, deeply sad. A young woman, with a child, with her life in front of her who has died in this fashion.’
He said Miss Wood suffered from a number of issues including relationship problems with her ex-partner over child care arrangements, low self-esteem about the way she looked, and concerns about the release of her convicted rapist.
He said she had a ‘loving family and no one had expected her to take the action she did’.
He also told the inquest her GP acted appropriately and said the crisis team reacted within 24 hours before adding that ‘in an ideal world she would have been seen face-to-face’.
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