A tragic mum struggling to cope with her severely autistic daughter drowned herself the day after social services told her they would not give her child residential care.
Carol Barnett, 51, took her own life by walking into a river just hours after a meeting with social services, an inquest heard.
She died on June 9 this year after walking into the River Medway at East Peckham, Kent.
Just minutes before she had rung her husband Daniel Barnett, 51, and told him that she could not cope anymore.
Her daughter Deborah, 10, who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old, cannot talk, is incontinent, cannot wash or dress herself and requires 24 hour care.
The hearing at Maidstone, Kent, heard that social services had continually refused to send her to a residential school which would provide the constant care she needs.
Speakin after the inquest Mr Barnett, 51, said he believed the meeting with social services the night before she took her own life pushed his wife over the edge.
He said: “Carol kept asking about residential options but the social worker kept saying no. The next morning she took her own life.
“I can’t believe for one second that what happened in that meeting did not have any effect on her.”
“I’m not saying it’s all social services’ fault, because it’s not, but I feel it really was the last nail in her coffin.
“Carol’s biggest fear was losing the children. She tried to battle her demons. All she wanted was the best support for Deborah.”
“Social services told me if I can’t cope they will take Deborah into foster care. That’s not what I want, sending her to residential school isn’t about getting rid of her.
“This tragedy has already ripped my family apart, I believe this would give her the best possible chance at life and keep us together.”
The inquest heard that Mr Barnett rushed to the River Medway after his wife had rung him but found her lying face down in the water.
Detectives later found her shoes on the river bed and her silver A3 parked nearby with the keys in the ignition, two suicide notes were also found at the family home in East Peckham.
Mr Barnett added that Deborah’s condition took a huge toll on his wife which lead her to depression and alcoholism in 2008.
The inquest, held in Maidstone, Kent, yesterday, heard Mrs Barnett began drinking heavily as a ‘coping mechanism’ after the birth of her first child, Sam, now 14.
Senior coroner, Patricia Harding, was told Mrs Barnett’s depression worsened after Deborah’s diagnosis and she tried to take her life several times.
Her GP, Vanessa Whillier, said: “Carol had episodes of depression after her first child and would drink on a daily basis. She didn’t take the autism diagnosis of her second child well. She took it really badly.”
At the time of her death Mrs Barnett was taking disulfiram – a drug designed to deter patients from drinking by producing unpleasant side effects when mixed with alcohol.
Doctor Whillier added that Carol was scared of losing her children and requested the drug specifically. She said Mrs Barnett struggled managing Deborah but wanted to stop drinking as she was concerned about the impact on her family.
Mr Barnett has resubmitted a request to Kent County Council for Deborah to be admitted to a residential facility but is also concerned for the wellbeing of his son, Sam.
“He went to school one morning, came home and his mother was dead. He is obviously still coming to terms with this”
“He is coming second to Deborah because of her situation. He needs my support.”
A Kent County Council Spokesman said: “We have every sympathy with Mr Barnett.
“We have been discussing with him how to support Deborah in the best possible way and we have offered an extensive package of support to meet the needs of the family.
“At this time we do not feel a residential school is appropriate to meet Deborah’s needs.
“She is already in a special school which has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted.
“She is happy and making good progress, both in classes and in after-school activities, and we feel her educational needs are best served by remaining there.
“We will keep all aspects of Deborah’s education and support for the family under review.”
Senior coroner, Patricia Harding, gave a verdict of suicide.