Young 'sporty and sociable' Preston man, 29, took his own life days after breaking up with girlfriend and losing pal to suicide

29-year-old Joseph Pownall failed to show up for work in the week before his death and was found hanging in his bedroom by a close friend in July of this year, an inquest concluded today.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 4:23 pm

Coroner Mark Williams determined that the young man, who was said to be 'sociable and sporty, a typical lad' by family intended to take his own life on the evening of July 17 of this year at an inquest held at Preston Coroners Court today.

He was found hanging in his room by friend Jack Newsham shortly after 7.30 pm, after friends had been drinking and then gone to sleep for most of the day.

And he had texted his dad Michael a stream of heartbreaking messages in the morning before he took his own life, where he said he "would no longer cause a problem for him", "would not disappoint him" and "knew what he needed to do."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Joseph as 29 when he was found in his room after taking his own life

Read More

Read More
Inquest opening 'not this week' as investigation goes on into explosion which ki...

The inquest heard that Joseph, who was found at his flat at Woodrow House, Mercer Street, had told a colleague he was 'feeling depressed' in the days leading up to his death and had not been showing up for work, where he checked alarms and security systems.

He had also lost another friend, from Penwortham, to suicide just two weeks before.

He had been off work after watching the Euro cup final with friends the week before his death, July 11, with family assuming he had just drank too much.

Joseph was found dead in his room by a friend at his Mercer St flat

Prior to this, friends and family said that the young man, who was a keen lover of sports, had shown no signs of being depressed and had never sought support from counselling or a GP regarding his mental health.

He had reportedly also broken up with his girlfriend the day before the incident.

His dad Michael Pownall said his son was "the person people would turn to for help" and that he had "no idea he had mental health struggles", adding: "He did get stressed sometimes, but it did not seem like he needed medical attention and there was nothing that stood out as being concerning."

Giving evidence at court this morning, dad Michael said: "He was into weight training and going to the gym. As a child he used to play football, do swimming, kickboxing and was a very sporty and active person.

"He enjoyed a drink with friends socially and was a hard-working man who would socialise at weekends like any other normal 29-year-old.

"As far as we know he had no contact with mental health services. We had no idea about if he saw a doctor about illnesses or any struggles. If he had mental health problems, he hid them very well.

"Up to the last year, I had only seen him five or six times because of work and the Covid restrictions. Before that, I had seen him a lot more because he lived with us up until two years ago. He would be out with his friends and girlfriend a lot, but we still had regular contact over the text and phone.

"He had a few days when he didn't show up for work after the Euros final, and his supervisor called asking where he was. I assumed he must've gone out and had too many like most people and just not turned into work.

"On Tuesday (July 13) he still did not show up for work and I could not get hold of him as his phone was turned off but one of his friends who was in contact with him said he was fine and would call us. I was told that he told a work colleague he was depressed.

"On the Saturday morning, I had left home early to go to the Lakes and had texts telling me he knew what he needed to do and that he wouldn't be a disappointment for me anymore.

"I was worried and was ringing constantly with no answer, before two of his friends knocked on the door and told me the news and took me to his flat.

"His friend had done something similar and taken his life just two weeks before. You don't realise these things until it’s in your court and you realise how many people are struggling.

"I don't know what was going on in his mind that week. He told colleagues he was depressed and that's as far as i knew about it. We are all absolutely gutted this has happened."

The inquest heard that he was a "typical fella" who would "close down very quickly when you could tell he was stressed and wouldn't talk about it."

The day before his death, witness statements heard Joseph had told a friend he had fallen out with his girlfriend and wanted to have a drink with him when he came home.

Friend Jack Newsham, who had been drinking with Joseph and other friends in the morning of July 17, said they had all gone to sleep and told him to sleep off how he was feeling.

But at around 7.40 pm, he went in to check on him and found him hanging in his room and ran out to tell friends and call the police.

He said: "(Joseph) phoned me to say his head was f***d at around 5 am on July 17. I went straight away to see him and we were there with other friends and all had a few drinks.

"He was upset and had split up from his girlfriend. I told him I was going to bed and he seemed okay at that point. I told him he should go to sleep too.

"At around 7.40 pm I decided I was going to order some food. I went into Joseph's room and saw him on the floor against the wardrobe behind the door. He felt cold and he had turned blue.

"I ran into the other room and could not go back in there. I could not even speak. I have known Joseph for 14 years and it never crossed my mind he would cause himself harm like this. I am extremely shocked and heartbroken."

External examinations at the postmortem, by a Dr Jacob Joseph, confirmed that Joseph's injuries were consistent with that of hanging and determined that as the cause of death.

Coroner Mark Williams today concluded it was suicide that killed the 29-year-old, adding: "I am greatly helped by the evidence heard today. Joseph was a typical young man of 29 years and generally healthy. In the weeks leading up to his death and prior to the last week, there was nothing of particular concern.

"I am not sure what had happened during that last week when he didn't show up to work but there was suggestions he had been down and told a friend he was depressed.

"I accept he was clearly down and that followed on from that week, he had an argument with his girlfriend, and called his best friends to go round and be with him.

"What took place thereafter was not witnessed and we will never know what was going on in his mind but at some point, he took the decision that he was going to hang himself. I don't know why and we never will know why he took that decision.

"I accept hanging as the medical cause of death and am satisfied he took his own life by his actions on that day."

His dad also set up a Just Giving page to raise £2,000 prior to the funeral.

Samaritans provides free anonymous and confidential emotional support for people experiencing crisis and distress, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can contact Samaritans by phone on 116 123, by email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, try our digital subscription today by ​clicking here.