Man struggling with ‘last song syndrome’ took his own life, inquest concludes

An inquest into Anthony Wayne Walters' death took place at Swansea Guildhall. (Wikipedia)
An inquest into Anthony Wayne Walters's death took place at Swansea Guildhall. (Wikipedia)

A takeaway worker who was “obsessed” with a condition that meant he kept getting songs stuck in his head took his own life, an inquest has concluded.

Anthony Wayne Walters, 55, had previously spoken of how he suffered from “last song syndrome” – also known as “earworms” – leaving him depressed and unable to sleep.

He had left a note to his father David Walters at the home they shared in Glynneath, Wales, saying how he had a song going round in his head all the time that “has killed him”.

Mr Walters phoned his friend David Williams on 26 January and told him he intended to end his life as he had been “depressed for a long time and could not sleep”.

Mr Williams informed South Wales Police and then officers received a call from Mr Walters himself saying he was at a viaduct in Glynneath.

Police later found Mr Walters at the bottom of the viaduct, where he was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest at Swansea Guildhall heard he had left notes of proof of ownership for his car, information concerning bills, and notes apologising for his actions.

Mr Walters had become “obsessed” about last song syndrome, repeatedly searching for it online, and had said: “I would rather be dead than go through this.”

Around 90% of people experience “earworms” – songs that play in our heads on a continuous loop – at least once a week, according to Dr Kelly Jakubowski from the Department of Music at Durham University.

These songs eventually fade away from our brains but the condition can be more debilitating for people with conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Earworms are considered unwelcome intrusions and they can be more stressful and provoke typical OCD symptoms, according to the British Journal of General Practice.

It was revealed at the inquest that Mr Walters had a long history of mental health disorder, and was diagnosed with obsessional neurosis and insomnia.

Acting senior coroner Colin Phillips returned a suicide conclusion.

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