Retired Taunton GP killed himself after wrong self-cancer diagnosis, inquest heard

Somerset County Gazette: Dr Philip Squire Dr Philip Squire

A RETIRED GP took his own life after wrongly convincing himself he had cancer, an inquest heard.

Dr Philip Squire, 59, left a suicide note saying he found “the idea of operations and long suffering just unbearable”.

But tests had given Dr Squire, of Mountfields Close, Taunton, the all-clear and he probably psychologically brought the symptoms on himself.

Neighbours got into his house after he failed to appear on April 17, and discovered he had hanged himself and left two notes and a message saying ‘call the police’, the court was told.

His niece, Judith Sumner, said his parents’ deaths in 2004 and 2008 hit him hard, and he retired in 2010 as senior partner at St James Medical Centre and medical officer at King’s College, which he attended as a boy.

She described him as “conscientious and hard-working”, compassionate and caring for his family, friends and patients, but said he retired because he was finding life as a GP “very stressful”, and suffered from anxiety and low moods despite tests for cancer coming back negative.

His own GP, Dr William Chandler, said Dr Squire, who lived alone, had suffered depression dating back nine years and feared cancer rather than actually having it.

In his suicide note, read to the inquest, Dr Squire apologised for taking his life, adding: “My last 16 months have been hell, knowing something serious is happening, but not being able to convince others.

“I have also felt rather alone . . . and isolated.”

He said while he had spent his life caring for others he “appreciated just how vulnerable I am with my own problems and illness”, and was unable to cope mentally and physically.

“The idea of operations and long suffering was just unbearable,” he said.

Concluding that Dr Squire committed suicide, West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose said: “Sadly, he had a phobia about dying with cancer of the pancreas.

“Nothing could disabuse him of the fact that he felt the symptoms.

“It’s a sad end for a man who has given an awful lot of his life to this town, King’s College and his family.”

The medical cause of death was given as asphyxia.

Comments (4)

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3:22pm Thu 15 Aug 13

fed_10 says...

sad that cared for so many people, but then couldn't pick up the phone or talk to anyone.
sad that cared for so many people, but then couldn't pick up the phone or talk to anyone. fed_10

1:09am Sun 18 Aug 13

MissShelleBelle says...

Understanding why people choose suicide is very hard. It takes a compassionate and loving view. If you or someone you know is struggling, try to read the book, When The Devil Visits dot com I know it helped me with my nephew's suicide. This lady lost four family members to suicide and she a unique perspective.
Understanding why people choose suicide is very hard. It takes a compassionate and loving view. If you or someone you know is struggling, try to read the book, When The Devil Visits dot com I know it helped me with my nephew's suicide. This lady lost four family members to suicide and she a unique perspective. MissShelleBelle

6:07pm Mon 19 Aug 13

academy says...

So sad. I have been a patient at St James and occasionally saw Dr Squires when my own GP was unavailable. A tall and imposing man with quiet charm and tremendous compassion. He helped me at a time when I was suffering with mild depression which makes, for me, his death even more poignant.
So sad. I have been a patient at St James and occasionally saw Dr Squires when my own GP was unavailable. A tall and imposing man with quiet charm and tremendous compassion. He helped me at a time when I was suffering with mild depression which makes, for me, his death even more poignant. academy

4:05pm Sat 31 Aug 13

mark1437 says...

As patient of St James I find this very sad. This man was a real gentleman who cared.
As patient of St James I find this very sad. This man was a real gentleman who cared. mark1437

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