Agoraphobic woman’s death tragedy

A Nelson woman who refused to leave her bedroom for more than 20 years and would not even see her own sisters, due to an extreme form of agoraphobia, hanged herself days after moving to her new home.


Miss Amanda Regan (45) was found hanged in her flat in Portland Street, Barrowford, on May 20th.

She had moved there following the death of her mother who had cared for her at their home in Halifax Road, Nelson.

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An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard how Miss Regan did not receive psychiatric help for her condition which extended to her refusing to see her own sisters for over two decades.

One of those sisters, Mrs Deborah Bell, told the hearing: “I didn’t have a relationship with my sister until May last year when our mother became ill. Our dad had died a few years before that.

“My sister’s condition ruined their lives – they couldn’t even have carers in the house when they were terminally ill. They refused to get help for Amanda and tried to care for her themselves.

“Amanda was also convinced for years that she was seriously ill physically with infections, but this was never the case. I didn’t see her face from when she was 23 until a few months before her death. She had a deep-seated psychological problem which was obvious to everyone who knew her.”

The inquest heard how, many years ago, Miss Regan had been diagnosed with an immature personality disorder but no psychological treatment was ever given.

But when Miss Regan’s mother died in January this year, the house in Halifax Road was put up for sale and her sisters sought help from the community mental health team. Her care co-ordinator, Miss Rifa Ahmed, told the inquest how she had been working to address Miss Regan’s social phobia and low self-esteem, and she had been making “good progress.”

She said: “Three people were involved in her care and we saw her throughout the week. She had started to leave the house and come shopping with us, which was a massive step forward. I was aware she had harmed herself previously and had threatened to hang herself but she told me she had no intention of doing so.”

The inquest heard Miss Regan had written letters to her sisters in which she talked of having serious infections.

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She also wrote: “I really have been living a terrible lie. I’ve lied to all the people who have been trying to help me.”

Recording a narrative conclusion, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “Not seeing anyone apart from her parents for more than 20 years is quite incredible. Her parents must have been resigned to her condition and felt it was their duty to care for her. However, they made no plans for the future after they were gone. That was the tragedy.”