Suicide teacher "lost confidence"
AN inquest heard how an "outstanding" teacher crouched in front of an inter-city train and waited to die because she feared she was not good enough at her job.
Married mother-of-two Judith Bleach, 44, committed suicide on the day she was due to attend an inter- view to complete her headship training, after "losing confidence" in her own ability.
Instead of boarding a train from Bristol to Birmingham the talented teacher from Henleaze drove 22 miles in the opposite direction, stopping at a lay-by near a train tunnel.
She parked her Fiat Punto – locking the doors, but leaving a window open. The coroner was told that Mrs Bleach got over a fence, walked up an embankment and wandered onto the train tracks.
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The delayed 11.32am First Great Western train travelling from Bristol Parkway to London Paddington struck her just before a tunnel in Alderton, Wiltshire, on May 22. Her body was identified from fingerprints matched to those taken from a wardrobe door at her home, the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was told.
Executive head teacher Mark Dee, of Parkwall Primary School, Cadbury Heath, Bristol – where Mrs Bleach worked – said she was viewed by all as "outstanding" in her profession.
Giving evidence at the inquest he said: "I had known her for about eight years and she was excellent at her job. She would have made an outstanding head in her own right.
"She worked hard and was popular with staff, pupils and their parents."
Mr Dee added: "I saw her on the Monday (the day before her death) and she was a bit nervous about the interview.
"But she would have passed it with flying colours. It was just a formality.
"There was nothing fundamental (to cause me alarm)."
The associate head teacher left two suicide notes in her car. One for her husband Matthew and the other to Mr Dee.
Mr Dee said: "From the tone of the letter it appears that her confidence had gone.
"I do think there were also some personal issues in the background, which contributed to this."
The wording of the notes were not read aloud during the public hearing. A map of the tragic spot was also found open in her car.
Train driver Brian Nugent had noticed Mrs Bleach near the track and sounded his horn.
He said in a statement: "I saw a woman walk from left to right. She would have been about seven or eight seconds away. I sounded the horn. She then crouched in a foetal position."
The coroner heard that the brakes were applied, but it was impossible to avoid her.
A post-mortem examination showed that Mrs Bleach, of West Croft, had suffered multiple head and body injuries due to a collision with a train. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
Her husband Mr Bleach, a bookkeeper, said he had no concerns about his wife as she left for the interview on the fateful day.
"She left the house at about 8.20am," he said. "She was smartly-dressed and had the papers she needed for the interview with her."
Mrs Bleach had been due to board a train from Bristol Parkway at 9.10am with her interview set for 11am.
It was the final part of her headship training she had started in September last year.
Wiltshire assistant deputy coroner Ian Singleton recorded a verdict of suicide.
"She voluntarily positioned herself on the railway line in a crouching position," he said.
"She collided with a train travelling from Bristol to Swindon at 110mph, a mile from Alderton tunnel in Wiltshire.
"I record that Judith Mary Bleach took her own life."
â Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have given warning signs beforehand. These feelings do improve and can be treated.
If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090 day or night.