County councillor whose death left colleagues ‘devastated’ took his own life after telling police where they would find him, inquest hears
A popular and dedicated 28-year-old Gloucestershire County Councillor took his own life after losing a battle with mental health demons, an inquest heard today, July 2.
Liberal Democrat Jack Williams, from Churchdown, was found in his car at a car park in Cheltenham after emailing Gloucestershire Constabulary to inform them of his intentions.
The Churchdown councillor had made a previous attempt on his life two years before, the coroner was told.
At the time of his death, there was an outpouring of tributes to the married dad-of-two from fellow councillors.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Paul Hodgkinson, said “Jack had achieved a huge amount”.
We are devastated by the loss and find it difficult to take in what has happened. Jack was one of the youngest members of the council and universally liked across the chamber. He was an impassioned councillor who cared deeply for Churchdown and for the county’s most vulnerable, working on the Children and Families committee, helping to oversee the improvements to Gloucestershire’s children’s services. We can only begin to imagine the loss being felt by his family and friends, to whom we send our greatest condolences.
Writing on Twitter at the time, Liberal Democrat councillor for Cirencester Park, Joe Harris, said: “Devastated to learn that my friend and colleague Cllr Jack Williams sadly passed away.
“A diligent County Councillor for Churchdown his community, @GlosCC and the @LibDems family will all be poorer for having lost him. All our thoughts are with his family.”
The ‘very well liked’ young politician had been working on the county council’s Children and Families committee, overseeing improvements to Children’s Services.
On the day of his death, he sent an email to Gloucestershire police with the subject heading ‘Suicide’ – notifying them where to find him, the inquest was told.
On that day, January 7, police attended the Sherborne Place car park and found him in his car. He was unresponsive.
A note was discovered in the vehicle with ‘clear suicidal ideation,’ the court heard.
Senior Gloucestershire Coroner Katie Skerrett, who summarised the evidence from a file of statements, said Jack had struggled with his mental health but was not currently known to the mental health services at the time of the tragedy.
“He was using the GP to manage his mental health and on anti-depressants. He was referred to the ‘Let’s Talk’ service but after several unsuccessful attempts to make contact with Jack he was discharged in June 2018,” she said.
Recording a conclusion of suicide, Mrs Skerrett said she was satisifed the intent to take his own life was there even if it was only fleeting.
“He struggled with his mental health and for reasons unknown he lost his battle and took the steps he did,” she concluded.