Claire Turpin, 42, became pregnant after lengthy fertility treatment
But she was acutely depressed after difficult birth of Jack and Eliza
Scaled 7ft wall and fell from top of John Lewis car park in Sheffield
A mother of twins who had longed to have children committed suicide because she thought she was an inadequate parent.
Claire Turpin, 42, had struggled to conceive, eventually succeeding after lengthy fertility treatment.
But she went on to become acutely depressed even though she was caring well for newborns Jack and Eliza.
Three months after their birth, the married former hotel manager jumped from the top of a John Lewis multi-storey car park.
An inquest heard Mrs Turpin had been referred to a mental health team and became ‘paranoid’ about social services wanting to take her babies away.
Her mother Kath Sugden criticised the medical support she was given, telling the hearing: ‘All that happened was that Claire went to the doctor and came home with another batch of tablets.
‘I was expecting things to move a little bit faster. She should have had more and quicker help from the agencies.
‘I saw her deteriorate over these few weeks day by day. She never spoke about suicidal thoughts to anyone. She had this horrendous fear if she did that her babies would be taken from her.’
Recording a suicide verdict, Sheffield coroner Julian Fox said it had been a ‘harrowing’ inquest, adding: ‘It must have been agonising for all Claire’s family to witness her change from a happy, lively, bubbly personality into a withdrawn woman with no self-respect.’
Mrs Turpin and husband Andy had tried hard to have children before she finally became pregnant through intrauterine insemination – in which sperm are placed into the womb when an egg is released.
She was overjoyed to discover she was carrying twins. In October 2012 one baby was delivered naturally and the other by caesarean section, but both were healthy.
Mrs Turpin looked after the children to an ‘extremely high standard’ but developed an irrational belief she was not good enough to care for them, the inquest heard.
She sought help and one of her GPs told the hearing Mrs Turpin had been treated with anti-depressants in the past.
In November 2012, the new mother was thought to be only a ‘moderate’ suicide risk. But the following month GP Susan Parker said her mood was ‘very low and she seemed lacking in confidence’.
Mrs Turpin talked about harming herself and was referred to a mental health team.
Over the New Year she appeared to be improving but two days before the tragedy, on January 13 last year, she was quiet and withdrawn at another consultation.
Dr Parker said: ‘Claire felt guilty because the people around her expected her to be in a certain way … but she was feeling anything but happy inside.
She found that very difficult to deal with.’
Health visitor Donna Sanderson added: ‘She was struggling to believe in herself as a new mum.
‘I told her it is quite a stressful time and having two babies has a massive impact.’
WHAT IS POSTNATAL DEPRESSION?
It is a common form of depression which affects around one in six women after they have given birth.
However, postnatal depression (PND) often remains undiagnosed, with only one in four cases diagnosed and treated.
It starts from two weeks to several months after delivery, but often develops slowly – making it very difficult for doctors to diagnose and hard for the mother to recognise her symptoms.
It is not known exactly what causes postnatal depression, but it is thought that biological, psychological and social factors all play a role.
Experts say that women who have a history of depression are more likely to suffer from the condition than those who have not.
Some research has shown that postnatal depression is caused by a sudden drop in oestrogen and progesterone after birth.
During pregnancy there is a surge in the levels of these two hormones.
However, after giving birth to your baby and having the placenta removed, these hormone levels drop back down to normal.
Scientists believe this rapid drop of hormones can trigger a chemical imbalance in the brain causing postnatal depression.
Psychologists believe that a variety of psychological issues could also be to blame.
Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly what causes the condition, it is thought that feelings of isolation and unresolved issues from the past can trigger the condition.
Mrs Turpin scaled a 7ft wall at the car park in Sheffield and landed on a car.
The coroner said while treatment was ‘ultimately ineffective’, he believed it was offered ‘promptly and appropriately’.
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