A coroner's inquest has ruled the bizarre self-immolation death of Yorkshire science teacher, David Charlesworth last May to be a suicide. Charlesworth, a 43-year old teacher at Harrogate's Rossett School was found in the school parking lot suffering from burns to more than 79 per cent of his body. He had apparently set fire to himself in the early hours of May 11, 2011 and was not discovered until later. Despite treatment by paramedics and firefighters who transported him to a nearby hospital, he died of his injuries a day later. A can of gasoline and a pile of burned clothing were found at the scene.
The coroner's inquest was told that Mr. Charlesworth was a "fantastic teacher" who had "very high standards" and felt pressured over the grades that his students received. He suffered from bouts of depression that often coincided with his students' A-level exams. After seeing his family doctor for depression, he was treated with medication and referred to a mental health team in March of last year. He was placed on a waiting list despite repeated attempts by his family doctor to investigate why he was still waiting to be assessed.
His wife, who was pregnant at the time of his death, testified that Mr. Charlesworth reported feeling "stuck" and that he "persisted in the feeling that as a teacher he wasn't up to standard and that he had a responsibility towards the children, their grades, and the parents of those children". Along with his wife and two children, David Charlesworth also leaves behind stunned students and fellow teachers who paid tribute to the popular and well-regarded teacher. A special assembly was held at the school shortly after his death.
In his ruling, Coroner Geoff Fell declared the death to be a suicide and that he would be writing to the chief executive of the North Yorkshire and the York Primary Care trust concerning Mr. Charlesworth's case and the role that delayed mental health care may have played in his death. Although he could not say whether Mr. Charlesworth would still be alive if he had received prompt care, he added that "I can say the chances of it being so must be greatly increased".