Coroner cites work-life changes for IT consultant's death

03 January 2020 Consultancy.uk

Following a series of changes to his work which led to him spending longer away from home, Graham Wild – an IT consultant from Cheshire – ended his own life in the summer of 2019. Amid a growing mental health crisis, Wild hanged himself after suffering from stress, anxiety and high blood pressure for a number of years.

The prevalence of mental illnesses in the UK remains high, with one in four individuals currently suffering at least one episode of some variety throughout their lives. Despite the severity of the situation, however, almost seven in ten UK managers still feel that there are structural barriers in place preventing them from supporting their staff when such issues emerge. Meanwhile, in freelance and boutique lines of work, 62% of workers feel stressed due to work, and 56% suffer from depression, but due to the nature of their employment, they have no formal workplace mechanisms to turn to for support.

The tragic example of Graham Wild serves to highlight just how terrible the consequences can be if this situation does not change. Wild was an independent consultant, who ran an IT advisory firm from his home in Cheshire, alongside a second role as a Director at another technology firm. The husband and father of three found himself increasingly isolated from his family, as a result of his increasingly hectic work schedule. Changes at work led him to make more regular trips to London for business meetings, and this seems to have been a factor that led to him taking his own life in July 2019.

Coroner cites work-life changes for IT consultant's death

According to an inquest into Wild’s passing, the 55-year-old had been struggling with his health for the best part of two decades. A report by his GP surgery, Priorslegh Medical centre in Stockport, confirmed that in 2003, Wild had been seen for stress at work relating to redundancies and changes to his work pattern. According to reports by the Daily Mail, he was last seen at the practice in 2017, when he was diagnosed with hypertension, but had not been back since.

A career spanning three decades took a toll on Wild, who had gone into the IT industry having obtained a degree in computer science. He worked as a computer programming manager at Hewlett-Packard for 25 years before setting up his consultancy business, Premitech Consulting. He ran the firm alongside his wife for the last 10 years, and as well as the company being successful, the lengthy space in-between his GP visits for stress-related ailments suggests that being able to spend more time with his loved ones by running a business from home helped a great deal.

However, following changes to his second job, the inquest was told that he was forced into a hectic work schedule that kept him away from his wife and children. The consultant, whose clients included the civil service, reportedly became worried about spending time away from his family, while silently harbouring feelings of low moods and anxiety. According to Suzanne Wild, things came to a head in July 2019, when her husband agreed to talk to her about his mental health on the following morning, as their sons would be away from the house.

Mrs Wild told the inquest, “This anxiety was in relation to his hectic work routine and it kept him away from his family and he would go to London quite often. We talked all about how he was feeling to try and help him. Trying to work out how to make things better, really.”

As her husband returned home late, she did not get the chance to speak to him, and the following morning she could not see or hear him, so assumed he was in his study. When he failed to answer his phone and his car was found locked on a street, concerns for Mr Wild’s safety were raised. His body was found later that day by his wife in the garage of their home, with a written letter from the deceased explaining his intentions to take his own life.

A recording of the suicide coroner, Jean Harkin, was played at the hearing. She concluded that while the causes of suicide are too complicated to pin-point a single aspect, stress relating to work-life changes seemed to have exacerbated Wild’s situation.

Harkin said, “It is clear that Graham was anxious about some work matters but not to the extent where he was registered at the GP surgery for being sad and receiving treatment. Whatever he was anxious about he was keeping to himself… He seemed to be most affected by change which is something we are all affected by at one time or another. This change was becoming too much for him. And it is clear from the notes that were found that he was intending to end his life.”

Following the news of his death, a Just Giving page was established in Mr Wild's memory. It eventually raised over £2,600 to place a commemorative bench in Adlington Memorial park for his family and friends to remember him by.


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