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Son of philosophy professor who fell from Archway Bridge wanted to ‘end his pain, not his life’

15:00 17 April 2014

Archway Bridge

Archway Bridge

Polly Hancock

The son of a prominent philosophy professor “wanted to end his pain and not his life” when he jumped from Archway Bridge, his family have said at an inquest into his death.

Michael Worrall, 28, the son of London School of Economics academic John Worrell, died from multiple injuries after falling from the bridge, over Archway Road, Highgate, on October 18 last year.

His mother, Dr Jennifer Worrell, a consultant rheumatologist at the Whittington Hospital, said her son had “a great deal of pain” stemming from his teenage years. “There is no history of mental illness in our family and before the age of 14 he was a happy, highly bright, sociable boy,” she told St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday.

“He took solace in cannabis and developed other mental health problems after that. Latterly, he developed some insight into his problems and said several times that he had wrecked his life.

“He came from a professional family and he felt that was no longer open to him. I think he wanted to end his pain and not his life.”

After he was ‘‘involved in a robbery’’, Mr Worrell, of Crouch End, was admitted to a secure mental health unit at Chase Farm Hospital in April 2012. He was prescribed anti-psychotics and antidepressants and he saw psychologists on a regular basis.

In April 2013, he was transferred to a low-security unit where his mental health continued to 
improve. He was discharged in July but continued to see a psychologist and his care co-ordinator every week until his death.

During these visits, he would not answer questions about his mental health and would only talk about football and his biggest passion, music.

On the day of Michael’s death, his father did not have any concerns about his son until he spoke to him on the phone.

“His sister was coming home and he should have been excited about it, but he said he couldn’t make it, which was very odd,” said Prof Worrell, who for 10 years was the editor of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

“I didn’t have any concerns before going out but when I talked to him on the phone, it made me very concerned.”

Assistant coroner Dr Richard Brittain reached a narrative conclusion as he did not have enough evidence about Michael’s intentions before his death to determine that he took his own life.

“Michael had significant mental health problems,” he told the court. “His death was not foreseeable. Really, it’s just for me to 
offer my condolences for Michael’s death at a very young age in very tragic circumstances.”

n For confidential emotional support in a crisis, contact the Samaritans around the clock on 08457 90 90 90.

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