Heartbroken mum took her own life at same spot as 16-year-old son ‘because she couldn’t live without him’

23 May 2023, 21:10 | Updated: 24 May 2023, 02:15

The inquest concluded Camille Hardman's death was suicide.
The inquest concluded Camille Hardman's death was suicide. Picture: Justgiving

By Jenny Medlicott

A heartbroken mother took her own life at the same place her 16-year-old son killed himself just eight weeks earlier, an inquest heard.

Camille Hardman, 45, re-enacted her son Ethan’s suicide in the same location just eight weeks after he took his life.

Her son Ethan took his life in October, just a few months after his 16th birthday.

His suicide came after splitting up from his girlfriend, the death of his grandmother and struggles he encountered from starting his first job, the court heard.

His mother Camille was admitted to a mental health unit just days after his death, as she began expressing suicidal thoughts to her family.

On December 8, her sister visited her home in Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, Lancashire to find the doors wide open –including the side gate.

Camille was nowhere to be found in the house and the court was told it is believed she left through the side gate to avoid being caught on a neighbour’s doorbell camera.

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Ms Hardman left a note in which she described her struggle to cope with Ethan’s death and instructions on how she wanted her own death to be handled afterwards.

Her body was later found in a nearby woodland area known as Forty Steps by the same officer who discovered her son’s body and in the same area.

Her son took his life in October.
Her son took his life in October. Picture: Justgiving

Area Coroner Kate Bisset said: “This was an absolute tragedy, utterly heart-breaking.

“Camille was an intelligent, articulate and loving lady and Ethan was the light of her life.

“When Ethan died she was destroyed by the loss, her heart was broken beyond repair.”

Preston Coroner’s Court also heard that the mother had a history of depression dating back 20 years, which included previous suicidal threats.

But this all became “too much”, the inquest heard, when her only child killed himself in October.

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Camille made multiple threats to her life after Ethan committed suicide.
Camille made multiple threats to her life after Ethan committed suicide. Picture: Justgiving

Camille’s partner, Richard Benson, told court: “Camille had lots of challenges and had struggles with her mental health. But she was very loving, kind, funny and intelligent.”

Mr Benson broke down in tears at court, as he revealed Camille expressed suicidal intent multiple times in the weeks following Ethan’s death.

A statement was also read out that said she had been given anti-depressants following his death due to her deteriorating mental health.

The inquest heard that she had periods of heavy drinking, pushing her to attend meetings at Alcoholic Anonymous.

The 45-year-old had been detained for a short period in Leeds under the Mental Health Act following concerns from her family and health care professionals.

The deaths were described as "utterly heart-breaking".
The deaths were described as "utterly heart-breaking". Picture: Justgiving

Tony Garner told the court about an interaction he had with Ms Hardman after coming across her while he was out walking his dog.

“She said she was fine,” he said. “I got about six feet beyond her and she said “just over there my son killed himself".

“I helped her up and she said she would be OK. So I went home and went to work, but it played on my mind.

“Later that day I saw a Facebook post in which she seemed upbeat. I messaged her back inviting her to go for a walk if she wanted to talk.

“Then I saw a post later that she had gone back to those woods and took her own life. I realised I was probably one of the last people to see her alive.”

An investigation opened into her death showed mental health professionals were not at fault for the mother’s suicide and that they did everything they could in the given circumstances.

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But it did flag “frustration” about West Yorkshire Police’s handling of information about Camille when she went missing for three days.

Coroner Kate Bisset told the inquest: “The loss of a child is unthinkable, but it was unsurvivable for Camille.

“The services did everything they could to support her mental health.

“I am equally satisfied Richard and her family could not have done any more to protect her.

“There is nothing that could have been done differently by that family. And the man in the woods is not responsible in any way.”

She also added that Camille had deliberately omitted information from mental health staff so as not to raise suspicion about her suicide and plan it without restraint.

A fundraiser has been set up following the pair’s death, which can be found here.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

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