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Dad who 'took his own life' left heartbreaking note reading: 'Covid got me'

A father who is believed to have taken his own life during the first lockdown is one of the ‘many hidden victims’ of the pandemic, his brother has said.

Financial adviser Nick Gunnell, 55, drowned in the River Ouse, near York, on June 30. Mr Gunnell had left an apologetic message for his family that expressed regret and said ‘Covid got me,’ heard an inquest into his death.

Speaking after a coroner ruled a verdict of suicide at the inquest, Mr Gunnell’s brother Jez said many people like his brother are struggling in silence as a result of the pandemic.

Jez, who paid tribute to his ‘amazing’ brother, said: ‘He is greatly missed by us all and we are all aware that Nick is a hidden victim of Covid-19 – one of many that have lost their precious lives or are suffering as a result of this devastating disease, that are not on any Government statistics.

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‘Nick was clearly very disturbed by the onset of Covid.

‘Apart from the oppressive media blitz, being under lockdown and deprived of his social life, Covid caused Nick enormous problems for the business that he had developed for 30 years.’

Lockdown had caused Mr Gunnell’s financial advice business problems and he had been suffering from anxiety and sleeping problems, said the coroner.

The inquest heard that before the pandemic, Mr Gunnell told his wife that 2020 was going to be ‘their year’. He was preparing to sell his financial advice business and they were planning a tour of the Greek islands.

But coronavirus travel restrictions meant the holiday was scrapped, the lockdown hit his business and the deal fell through, the inquest heard.

Paying tribute to his brother, Jez added: ‘Nick lived life to the full and was an amazing husband, father, stepfather, brother, uncle and a great friend to many.

‘However, despite the evidence that he planned to take his own life, we will never be sure he did not end up falling into the river in his condition rather than actually ending his life on purpose.’

Mr Gunnell was last seen on CCTV walking down to the riverside in York city centre shortly after 1pm on June 30.

After a six-day police and public search, a kayaker found his body in the River Ouse 150 metres upstream from the bridge.

Mr Gunnell had drunk alcohol and taken medicine before he died and CCTV at York Station showed that he was slightly unsteady on his feet, the court was told.

He had talked with his doctor the day before his death and was prescribed medicine for anxiety and sleeping issues.

The doctor’s notes said he did not sound suicidal, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem concluded that Mr Gunnell had drowned and assistant coroner John Broadbridge recorded a finding of suicide.

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