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A gym owner who live-streamed his own death over Facebook may have been making a ‘cry for help’ rather than intending to commit suicide, an inquest heard.
Father-of-four Jonathan Bailey, known to his devastated pals as ‘Baz’ or ‘Bazza’, had posted on social media that he was going to take his own life.
As he began live-streaming video of his actions on Facebook, his horrified friends made a series of 999 calls.
According to Stoke on Trent Live, an inquest into his death heard police were too late to save Mr Bailey.
The hearing was told officers had two different addresses for Mr Bailey as he had moved just the week before, and they dispatched patrols to both locations within minutes.
But by the time the 50-year-old was found, he couldn’t be revived. He was pronounced dead at his flat in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire on July 11 last year.
The popular gym owner, who was known for his charitable and voluntary work, had struggled with mental health issues since his twenties. He had been diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder of an impulsive type.
In the week leading up to his death, Mr Bailey’s mental state significantly deteriorated. He had cut his wrists and also threatened to jump off a roof.
Friend Craig Spillane, who runs the mental health group Men Unite, said: “He was clearly in a dark place.”
He described him as ‘an all-round good bloke’ and had been trying to help him tackle his problems.
Mr Spillane was at home on July 11 when his stepdaughter alerted him to an alarming Facebook post, where Mr Bailey said he was ‘going to kill himself’.
“I rang 999. I knew I needed to get straight to his flat,” Mr Spillane said in a statement. “As I was driving, my stepdaughter shouted ‘oh my God, he’s doing it live on Facebook’.”
Mr Spillane reached the block of flats and managed to get inside the building.
Best friend Stefan Hanks said: “He could barely stand. He was shaking and cold.”
Harplands Hospital staff felt his physical health needed to be sorted before he could receive a mental health assessment, so he was advised to attend A&E.
Two consultant psychiatrists and another mental health expert carried out the assessment several hours later.
Dawn Burston, from North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare, said he was deemed to be ‘high risk’, although he said he had no suicidal thoughts.
“The team advised that he would benefit from an admission to Harplands Hospital to support him through this crisis period,” she told the inquest. “Mr Bailey, however, declined that admission.”
“I ran up and noticed the door was unlocked slightly, but with a chain. I just shoulder-barged the door, breaking the chain.”
He found Mr Bailey hanging and tried to get him down. Police officers then arrived and began CPR while paramedics were on their way.
The inquest was told that just the day before his death, concerned friends had spotted Mr Bailey in the street and had taken him to Harplands Hospital. He had taken diazepam.
The doctors tried three times to persuade him to change his mind.
At the inquest, family and friends questioned why medics hadn’t sectioned him under the Mental Health Act.
Ms Burston, who investigated the case following the death, said they didn’t have powers to detain him as he was deemed to have the capacity to make his own decisions.
Mr Hanks and another friend took him home that evening and he seemed to be a bit better.
Andrew Franks, Mr Bailey’s uncle, said he did not believe his nephew intended to kill himself. “He’d had many cries for help over months and people would go to his aid. He knew people would go to his help,” he added.
North Staffordshire senior coroner Andrew Barkley said he was not satisfied that Mr Bailey intended to take his own life, despite being in a ‘downward spiral’.
He recorded a narrative conclusion, adding: “He died from the effects of self-suspension in circumstances in which his intention was unclear.”
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