Man Used Helium To Kill Himself

PUBLISHED: 09:18 08 September 2010

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A 52-year-old Cambridge man was discovered dead on his boat in Wilburton after suffocating himself with helium, an inquest heard this week.

A 52-year-old Cambridge man was discovered dead on his boat in Wilburton after suffocating himself with helium, an inquest heard this week.

Micheal Southworth was found by police officers slumped in the cabin of his family boat with a bin bag over his head and cylinders of helium rigged up so that he suffocated and died.

At an inquest into the death held on Friday, William Morris, coroner for North and East Cambridgeshire, ruled that Mr Southworth had taken his own life and recorded the cause of death as asphyxia.

In a statement read to the court by the coroner, Pc Russell Coles of Cambridgeshire Police said that officers had been called to Wilburton Marina on Twenty Pence Road on the morning of June 20 after letters threatening to take his own life were discovered by relatives of Mr Southworth.

On arrival at the marina officers discovered a car belonging to the 52-year-old and decided to head over to his boat - the Free Spirit - to check on his whereabouts.

When they entered the boat’s cabin they discovered Mr Southworth’s body with the fully inflated bin bag still on his head and the helium gas still being pumped from two cyclinders that had been brought on to the boat.

The police doctor subsequently declared Mr Southworth dead at the scene.

A statement read out on behalf of Mr Southworth’s wife revealed that the couple had separated in the weeks running up to his death after 21 years of marriage. She described him to the court as “an intelligent man.”

She said that Mr Southworth had “not taken the situation well and had started to become depressed” after the separation but said that the family never thought he would consider taking his own life.

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