February 3rd 1952
Starved Himself to Death – Goytre Man Refuses to Eat or Drink.
Believing, quite wrongly as it turned out, that he was suffering from a severe stomach complaint, Jenkin Rosser, a 73 year old labourer of Prospect, Goytre, starved himself to death.
He refused medical treatment and advice and when an attempt was made at Panteg County Hospital a few hours before his death on January 31st, to feed him intravenously, he had to be forcibly restrained from tearing away the apparatus.
The last food he had was just before Christmas, when his brother forced some egg and milk down his throat.
Mrs Annie Elizabeth Rosser, the widow, told the Coroner, (Mr D J Treasurer) at the Pontypool inquest on Wednesday that her husband had not worked since 1940. He suffered from neurasthenia and since 1943 had slept in a chair in the kitchen, believing that if he lay down he would die.
He had been under the care of the doctor since 1949 and took medicine to steady his nerves, but three months ago he stopped going out and took only little bits of “slop food”.
During the last few weeks he would not eat anything at all and refused to drink said Mrs Rosser. On several occasions I had to force food and drink into his mouth, but he said many times that it was no good as it would not go through him. He was always asking me for laxatives, which I gave him now and then.
“Refused Only Chance”
She said that when Dr JB Fitzsimons asked him to go to Panteg Hospital he agreed and was taken in an ambulance, but after a few hours he demanded to be discharged. The following morning the doctor again persuaded him to go into the hospital, as it was his only chance of recovery. He agreed to go on the condition that I brought him home in the evening, she said, I would but he died the same evening.
She went on, “he had the idea there was something wrong inside him and refused to take any food at all. Just before Christmas his brother forcibly made him take some egg and milk and although it went all over the front of him, he kept some down.”
She agreed with the Coroner that she should have insisted on his going to an institution, but the doctor told her he was not certifiable.
Coroner: Did you tell him there could only be one end to his conduct? – Yes, but he still refused.
Do you think he was mentally unbalanced? – I could not think any other, but I left it to the doctor.
The Coroner said a statement from Dr Fitzsimons, which described Rosser as “an introspective and difficult patient who would not co-operate with his wife, family or me.”
He would not take any treatment prescribed for him, but he never appeared to be mentally un-balanced or certifiable.
The Coroner – He has brought about his own death just as surely as if he had committed suicide.
William Edward Rosser, 1, Broad Street, Griffithstown, a son, also said he had tried to persuade his father to take nourishment and failed. He always said it would not do him any good and that food made his stomach worse.
Dr J Kotalski, Panteg hospital house surgeon, said that Rosser, on his second admission effused to be treated, but an attempt was made with some small success to feed him intravenously with saline solution.
He was dehydrated and in an emancipated condition. He struggled and nurse had to restrain him, he was in the hospital only a few hours before his death. The cause of death was inanition, due to lack of nutrition. The organs of the body were atrophied, but he was otherwise organically sound. There was nothing wrong in the stomach to cause any pain.
The Coroner said that Rosser had brought about his own death just as surely as he had deliberately set about putting an end to his life by starving himself, that had it not been for the opinion of Dr Fitzsimons he would record a verdict to that effect.
In the circumstances he would return a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. “I am satisfied that the family did everything they could for him and I express my sympathy with them,” he said.
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