Takeaway worker, 55, who couldn’t get songs out of his head killed himself after becoming depressed and unable to sleep
- Anthony Wayne Walters was ‘obsessed,’ with last song syndrome, inquest heard
- Speaking about it, he had once said ‘I would rather be dead than go through this’
- The 55-year-old died after falling from Pontwalby viaduct in January this year
A takeaway worker who was battling with ‘last song syndrome’ leapt to his death off a 83ft viaduct to escape the music track stuck in his head – hours after a telling a friend he was depressed and could not sleep.
Anthony Wayne Walters, 55, had previously spoken about a last song syndrome, a sensation which meant he kept getting songs stuck in his head.
In a note left at his father’s home in South Wales, Anthony explained how he had an unnamed song going round in his head all the time which ‘has killed him’.
On January 26 he phoned his friend David Williams and told him he intended to end his life, police later found him standing precariously on Pontwalby viaduct in Glynneath, South Wales.
Anthony Wayne Walters, 55, left a note saying a song stuck in his head had ‘killed him,’ before he fell to his death from Pontwalby viaduct in South Wales
Police arrived at the scene at 1.25pm and saw Mr Walters standing on the viaduct in a precarious position, an inquest into his death – held at Swansea Guildhall on Tuesday – heard.
Officers could see he was prepared to jump and so kept a safe distance away from him. Eleven minutes later, more officers arrived, and a police negotiator was made aware of the incident.
What is ‘last song syndrome’?
Last Song Syndrome, sometimes known as Earworms, is an unofficial term for the experience of a catchy song repeating itself over and over again long after the sufferer actually listened to it.
‘An experience or an inability to dislodge a song that is last heard and prevent from repeating itself in ones head is called Last song syndrome,’ according to clinical psychologist Seema Hingoranny.
Most people, up to 98 per cent of the Western world, experience Last Song Syndrome but it is not usually a bad experience.
Patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can consider Earworms to be unwelcome involuntary thoughts.
Those who think of them as annoying and stressful are more likely to express OCD symptoms, according to the British Journal of Medical Practice.
By 2pm the 55-year-old remained in the same position and informed officers he did not want to speak to them.
Five minutes later Mr Walters jumped from the bridge into a shallow river beneath him. He was pronounced dead a short while later.
He shared the home with his father David Walters who said after doing so he became aware of his son’s mental health issues.
His father said his son was struggling to sleep and was obsessed with last song syndrome, where the last song he heard would play over and over in his head.
The inquest heard he had left notes of proof of ownership for his car, information concerning bills, and notes apologising for his actions.
He detailed how he had been suffering from depression and lack of sleep, adding how he had a song going round in his head all the time which ‘has killed him’.
He also left a note for his father instructing him to call the police if he did not return home by 2pm but added he was going to phone them himself anyway.
Mr Walters had a normal and happy upbringing, the inquest heard, and he had worked at builders’ merchants at Neath and Pontardawe before going on to work at a Chinese takeaway in Glynneath. He had been married for 10 years before getting divorced in 2018.
He had become ‘obsessed’ about last song syndrome, repeatedly searching for it online, and had said: ‘I would rather be dead than go through this.’
Evidence from Dr Anthony Icke, of the Vale of Neath GP Practice, heard how he had a long history of mental health disorder, having been diagnosed with obsessional neurosis and insomnia.
Acting senior coroner Colin Phillips said: ‘It is clear from the evidence there is no other third party involved and this is an act of his own volition.
‘The overwhelming evidence is that he went there with the prospect of ending his life.
‘On the balance of probability I can safely say he carried out the act with the intention of ending his own life.’
Mr Phillips returned a suicide conclusion.
If you are struggling, Samaritans can provide support, call 116 123.