Brimington man who took his own life “fooled everyone with his smile”

The aunt of a Brimington man who took his own life aged just 30 after battling depression for years says “he fooled everyone with his smile”.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 9:41 pm

Catherine Hill - known to nephew James Alton as “mum” after caring for him from the age of five - told how the “loving” construction worker “blocked out his demons” with alcohol.

James was looked after from birth by grandparents Lance and Anne Alton and his life was scarred by the tragic loss of family as an infant and throughout his later years.

On October 29 last year industrial construction worker James was found hanged at his home.

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During a documentary inquest setting out the facts surrounding his death Chesterfield coroner Sarah Huntbach told how James had previously talked about taking take his own life.

Aunt Catherine described how, in the weeks before, suicidal James had referred himself for alcohol rehabilitation treatment after spending time at a mental health unit.

However she told how the 30-year-old’s mind was “like a pressure cooker” because “he never talked about his feelings”.

She said: “His mind was troubled - he was brokenhearted really - but he was a lad who couldn’t talk about anything.

James Alton with his beloved dog, Arthur

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“James struggled with his mental health from his early teens and although he wasn’t an alcoholic he used it to block out his thoughts.”

Catherine, 50, said nephew James was deeply affected by the deaths of his grandmother Anne aged five and his father a few years later.

She said: “James always said to me ‘what will I do if I lose you? I haven’t got anyone else’.

James Alton took his own life aged just 30 after battling depression for years

“It’s so sad because we never had our own children and we were going to leave him everything - he was ours.”

Describing James - who played football in his teens for Wingerworth and Holmewood - Catherine said: “He was a lovely lad - very loving and caring - and he was sort of naive in a way.

“He always had a smile for everyone and I think he fooled everyone with his smile - it's just a shame it’s ended like this.

“But if you keep everything inside your mind explodes in the end and this is what happens.”

James as a pageboy - around six years old

As well as aunt and uncle Catherine and Ian Hill James leaves behind his girlfriend Carly and beloved dog Arthur.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.