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A man who had been suffering with mental health problems for many years has been found dead on a beach in England, after being found ‘fit for work’ by the Department for Work and Pensions and told his sickness benefits were being removed.

David Metcalf, 54, was found dead on the beach near Horden, County Durham, on the 3rd January, just four days after being examined by a mental health practitioner at his home in Hartlepool.

In his report, the mental health practitioner Leighann Fishpool said: “David was signed off sick for nine years due to anxiety, stress and panic attacks.


“He has recently been deemed fit for work and told he would need to go to the JobCentre to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“He said he was frustrated and upset and thought ‘What’s the point?’

“He feels he needs someone to go with him to the JobCentre so they can sort this out for him.

“He feels frustrated at having his benefits stopped and finds it difficult to communicate with staff at the JobCentre.”

Mr Metcalf was not known to have any family and was described by coroner Crispin Oliver as “a somewhat solitary individual”.

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Concerns were raised after Mr Metcalf handed his car keys and bank documents to a garage owner, who is believed to have been his only acquaintance, saying he would no longer need them.


Mr Metcalf was found still dressed in a jumper, coat and gloves, but was not wearing any socks or underwear. However, Detective Sgt Gary Davison told the hearing that he didn’t think this was particularly unusual.

The inquest heard that a post-mortem showed signs of drowning and hypothermia.

The Hartlepool Mail reports that Mr Metcalf had denied any intention to harm himself, and the coroner said it was unclear as to whether he had entered the sea accidentally or deliberately.

Without clear evidence that Mr Metcalf had intended to commit suicide when entering the sea, Coroner Mr Oliver recorded an ‘open verdict’.

“I simply cannot come to the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to kill himself and, therefore, the suicide conclusion is not available,” he said.

“Despite the best efforts of the police, there is no conclusive evidence as to how Mr Metcalf came to be in the sea.

“Accordingly, and I say this with regret, but this is an inquest that must record an open conclusion and that is what it will do.”



If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article and need support you can contact the Samaritans free by calling 116 123 (UK & ROI) or visit their website for more information.