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School governor killed himself weeks before wedding

PUBLISHED: 11:23 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:23 07 September 2010

A RESPECTED civil servant and school governor from West Hampstead died under a Tube train just weeks before he was due to get married, an inquest heard on Monday. Adam Rothapel, 32, who lived in Minton Mews with his fiancee Samantha Baden,

Susanna Wilkey

A RESPECTED civil servant and school governor from West Hampstead died under a Tube train just weeks before he was due to get married, an inquest heard on Monday.

Adam Rothapel, 32, who lived in Minton Mews with his fiancee Samantha Baden, worked as a private secretary for MP Bridget Prentice at the Ministry of Justice.

He was a governor at Hampstead School and, Newcastle born, was an avid supporter of Newcastle United Football Club.

He walked his fiancee to Finchley and Frognal station at around 8.25am on the morning of May 26 before stepping under a train at Finchley Road 10 minutes later.

Mr Rothapel suffered from Crohn's disease and had a history of mental illness. He had been signed off work for several months after suffering a downturn.

He was taking antidepressants and being seen by NHS doctors, including a psychologist and a psychiatrist, but had expressed frustration with his treatment.

Ms Baden told St Pancras Coroners Court: "He was very frustrated all the way through his treatment with the NHS and with his contact with mental health staff.

"In April he was at crisis point, he couldn't take part in life. He regularly felt overwhelmed by anything and he was experiencing extreme psychological anguish.

"He tried very hard and he wanted to get better so he pushed himself to do things that were difficult for him.

"He said he was in a lot of pain and wanted the pain to end but the only time he mentioned a suicidal thought was the Saturday before he died."

The couple visited Brighton together with Ms Baden's sister the weekend before Mr Rothapel's death.

She said: "He tried very hard to be upbeat while we were in Brighton and he did a good job of it. He did tell me at one point that he had been thinking about ending his life. We talked about it and I asked him if he still felt like that and he said no."

The day before he died, the couple went for a walk on Hampstead Heath and had an optimistic conversation about their future and life after their wedding.

That day, NHS Direct referred Mr Rothapel to a doctor who deemed him "not actively suicidal". Dr Gregory Battle spoke to him and his mother on the phone for 35 minutes and heard that he had visited a station thinking about killing himself.

He said: "My assessment was that he was rather depressed and, from his description, resistant to treatment. His mother asked if she should contact his psychiatrist the next day and I said yes and also to call back if she needed to.

"I felt the situation was moving towards Mr Rothapel needing admission to hospital although at the time my judgement was that he was not actively suicidal."

The court heard Mr Rothapel was well supported by his co-workers and line manager at work who have paid tribute to their colleague.

Bridget Prentice said: "He was one of the loveliest, most sensitive and intelligent people I have ever known and he was a great civil servant. I will miss him not only as a great advisor but as a great friend."

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.


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