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Staplehurst piano teacher Sharon Burnham committed suicide at village station

A gifted musician and much-loved sister committed suicide after a long battle with depression, an inquest heard.

Sharon Burnham, of Butcher Close Staplehurst, was hit by a train at the village’s station on Wednesday, August 6.

In a written statement read at County Hall, Southeastern driver Sean Reynolds said he initially thought he was looking at a bag on the tracks.

Emergency services at Staplehurst station after Ms Burnham's death. Picture by: Martin Apps
Emergency services at Staplehurst station after Ms Burnham's death. Picture by: Martin Apps

As he got closer, travelling at approximately 65mph, he could see it was a person. Despite hitting the emergency brakes he was unable to stop in time.

“Sharon was a loving and caring sister. She kept herself to herself and could be quite shy. She was extremely clever and a keen pianist” - sister Dawn Glanville

Ms Burnham, 47, a former piano teacher, was first spotted at the train station by maintenance staff just after noon.

One of them saw her standing near the track at the end of a platform. He shouted at her from the opposite platform and she walked off.

PC Ryan Mulcahy, of British Transport Police, told assistant coroner Kate Thomas Ms Burnham returned to the station at 1.20pm.

He said CCTV shows her standing at the platform with other commuters but there was no reason to suspect anything was wrong.

Ms Burnham enjoyed playing the piano and flute, but developed depression in 1998. It is thought the breakdown of her marriage and a high-pressure job she had at the Halifax Bank had contributed.

After leaving the job she became a piano teacher based in Guildford.

But in 2008 she had surgery on her jaw, which left her unable to play to the flute, and four years later she developed tinnitus, which made it hard for her to teach piano, and her depression became more severe.

Officers at Staplehurst station
Officers at Staplehurst station

A statement from sister Dawn Glanville said Ms Burnham felt like everything she loved was being taken from her.

She added: “Sharon was a loving and caring sister. She kept herself to herself and could be quite shy.

“She was extremely clever and a keen pianist.”

In March 2014 Ms Burnham moved to Staplehurst to be near her family. A conclusion of suicide was given at Tuesday’s inquest.

If you would like confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 at any time.


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