Wife’s tribute to singing star who took own life after medication fear

A woman has paid tribute to her late husband who took his own life following a long battle with anxiety and depression. Maggie Crabtree said her husband Anthony – known as Tony – had a beautiful singing voice and had played many leading roles in musical performances in the Halifax area. She told an inquest into his death that Tony, who was 59 and from Sowerby Bridge, had performed with Halifax Light Opera Society and St Michael’s Amateurs based in Mytholmroyd, near Hebden Bridge.

:Tragedy as police called to ‘sudden death’ of woman, 63, at Flockton home Mrs Crabtree said: “He had a lovely singing voice. He loved giving musicals and at the time of his death, we had been rehearsing for Fiddler on the Roof.

“He had been one of the leads in that in previous years – playing Motel the tailor.” The couple had originally met through amateur dramatics through his involvement with Halifax Light Opera Society, and had been together for around 20 years. “He played quite a lot of leading roles.”

She added: “I’ve got lots of lovely memories.” Mr Crabtree, a tenor, had played roles in South Pacific, Oliver, and other productions.

Emergency services at the scene near to the River Calder in November 2019

Shortly after his death, St Michael’s Amateurs paid tribute to its “wonderful, long-standing member”, saying he was “so full of life, had a contagious laugh and a twinkly smile. We will truly miss him.

May he rest in peace.” The inquest heard that Mr Crabtree, a former forklift truck driver, had been suffering from mental health issues for around 10 years and was described by his wife as a “worrier”. He hadn’t been sleeping well and was anxious about changes to his role at work where his new job involved working in a textile mill next to a noisy loom.

Tragically, Mr Crabtree took his own life in November 2019. His body was recovered from the river Calder at Sowerby Bridge. An investigation by West Yorkshire Police established that there were no suspicious circumstances.

Mr Crabtree’s body had been recovered from the river near to Fall Lane, opposite the council’s recycling facility, the inquest was told. A pathologist concluded that Mr Crabtree had died from severe blood loss. Mrs Crabtree told the hearing that her husband’s anxiety had been made worse by fears that he would run out of his medication which she put down to poor communication between his GP practice and NHS mental health services.

She claimed that a receptionist had told her that GPs and mental health doctors “don’t speak to each other.” “He was so frightened he was going to run out of tablets,” she told the inquest. She also expressed frustration at having to constantly repeat her husband’s medical situation and background to every new health worker she was passed on to.

A review of his care by the South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust found that some actions around his care had not been written down. Mark Thornton, who investigated the Trust’s actions, said the records showed that Mr Crabtree was due to be seen on a certain date but there was no evidence to say that he had actually been seen. He said an employee had left the Trust and so it was not possible to find the reason for the failure to take records.

Mr Thornton said GPs could now see a patient’s mental health records but at the time of Mr Crabtree’s death, this wasn’t the case.

Where to get help if you’re struggling

You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help. Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email jo@samaritans.org, in confidence

Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill Platform 1 men’s community group: Support for issues including mental health problems and addiction recovery. Visit the website or call 01484 421143.

Andy’s Man Club: info@andysmanclub.co.uk PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141

Mind: A charity offering support and advice for people with mental health problems. Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit Bullying UK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying. Click here

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. There’s a website and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58 MindOut: Provide support and advice on mental health for members of LGBTQ communities. Phone 01273 234839

He told Mrs Crabtree that he understood that having to re-tell her husband’s background story was “distressing and frustrating”. “I can take that back (to the Trust) as part of the learning,” he added. Assistant coroner Katy Dickinson told Mrs Crabtree that her husband was a “wonderful man”, adding: “You sound so happy when you talk about him, that is lovely to hear.

“He sounds a wonderful man. Mental health is so difficult to combat and he’s obviously been battling with it. “I am so sorry you have lost him in these circumstances.

My heart goes out to you.” Ms Dickinson concluded that Mr Crabtree had taken his own life. “He did this to himself – there’s nobody else involved.

I’m sorry that you have lost him in this way.”

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