A POPULAR Churchfields Academy employee hanged himself after being plagued by “dark thoughts” while struggling to come to terms with his retirement.

David Lewis, 67, known as Dave to family and friends, was found by his wife of nearly 50 years at their home in Highworth on October 14.

She had been out that morning and when she returned she could not find him so searched the house and garden before making the harrowing discovery, an inquest in Salisbury heard.

Mrs Lewis rang emergency services but paramedics could not save him.

A statement written by Mrs Lewis, who did not attend the inquest, was read by assistant coroner for Swindon and Wiltshire Peter Hatvany to the court on Tuesday.

It described how Mr Lewis loved his job and had worked as a maintenance man at the school in Salcombe Grove for 15 years. The former Kingsdown School pupil also helped out as an exam invigilator and drove the mini-bus.

But his mental health troubles, which included disturbed sleep, anxiety and depression, started to put a strain on his life and in August last year he made the tough decision to retire.

However he started suffering from “dark thoughts” and his mood took a turn for the worst, resulting in panic attacks.

“He hadn’t prepared properly for retirement and admitted he did not realise what a huge change it would be,” said Mr Hatvany reading from the statement.

On the morning of his death the couple had breakfast in bed and read the newspapers. Mrs Lewis described how he seemed to be “back to his normal self” and he pottered about getting tomatoes from the greenhouse before she left.

“She assured him he could phone her if there were any problems and she left around 10.20am. He waved her off down the road and she was feeling positive,” said Mr Hatvany.

“When she left home there was no indication anything was wrong, no missed calls and no note.”

Mrs Lewis also wrote how up until the last six weeks before her husband’s death their lives together were ‘as near as perfect as they could be.’ But in the last six weeks he lost his confidence and turned into a shadow of his former chatty and outgoing self.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Mr Hatvany said: “He had recently retired and he found having nothing to occupy himself with extremely daunting.

“He been suffering serious depression, anxiety and dark thoughts. I’m satisfied he did intend to kill himself.”

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