Frail Edith, 97, chose to take her own life after cancer diagnosis
A 97-YEAR-OLD Lostwithiel woman who decided she had lived long enough took her own life in the peace and quiet of her beloved country cottage, an inquest has heard.
Friends of retired clerk Edith Daphne Bray described her as a caring and active woman who loved animals and would walk up to two and a half miles a day.
However, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2011 the mother of one struggled to get about and spoke of taking her own life, an inquest at Truro Coroner's Court was told.
On Remembrance Sunday last year, a month before her 98th birthday, Mrs Bray was found dead in her home in Polscoe.
Fantastic offer at Swanson Ford, Newton Abbot. 3 Years FREE Servicing and 5 Years Warranty available on your BRAND NEW FORD FIESTA with the AWARD WINNING ECOBOOST ENGINE!!!
Terms: Limited stock available. Only whilst stock lasts
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Tuesday, December 24 2013
Her inquest heard she had told a neighbour the day before: "I could be dead tomorrow."
In a statement read to the court Stephen Wells, who lived next door but one to the pensioner, said: "She had not been able to get out so I took it upon myself to fit a bird feeder opposite her bedroom window. She loved nature and animals.
"On Saturday, November 10, I went over to fill up the bird feeder and she asked me to come in.
"She asked me to get two books from the lounge because the vicar was coming round on Sunday.
"I did think it was a bit strange because it was Remembrance Sunday and I thought he would be busy."
And as Mr Wells went to leave Mrs Bray held her wrist and told him she had no pulse, Mr Wells said.
"She said, 'I could be dead tomorrow'."
The court heard that Mrs Bray was found in her bedroom with the cord from a dressing- gown around her neck.
She had attached it to a hook above her bed, which was connected to an aid which helped her to get out of bed.
Toxicology reports showed Mrs Bray had alcohol in her bloodstream at a concentration of one and a half times the legal drink-drive limit.
A pathologist's report said the level of alcohol in her system was likely to have had a "significant detrimental effect on her motor and cognitive functioning", the court heard.
Returning a verdict of suicide Dr Elizabeth Carlyon, Coroner for Cornwall, said: "I accept the pathologist's evidence that the cause of death was asphyxia caused by hanging."
Citing Mrs Bray's frustration at being bedbound and in deteriorating health, Mrs Carlyon said she was satisfied the pensioner's death was caused by a deliberate act and that she intended to end her own life.
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Bray's close friend and carer Sarah Whitehead paid tribute to her.
"She was a very strong- willed and caring woman," Mrs Whitehead said.
"She was a real animal- lover. She would leave treats out for all the dogs in the garden and would give money to all the animal charities."
Mrs Bray spent most of her life in Cornwall. She grew up in Lanlivery, moving to Launceston where she worked as a clerk. Mrs Whitehead said: "She married a Metropolitan Police officer in the 1940s and moved to London but she didn't like the bombs and came home."
Mrs Bray returned to Lostwithiel in 1976 to care for her parents, and lived for the remainder of her life in the cottage she adored. Mrs Whitehead said: "She moved back into her home to care for her parents and had been there ever since. She always said she wanted to live to 100 and to die in her home. She was so young at heart."