Stephen Whittle killed himself out of guilt after tragedy
As we all know, Saturday 15th April 2017 marked the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
It was another year of fantastic respect from across England as tributes flooded in to honour the 96 football fans who died that day in Sheffield. The Liverpool squad paid their respects in training during the day. Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson headed to the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to lay wreaths and pay their respects.
I wrote my own article in tribute to the victims on Saturday, which you can read here.
However, there is a forgotten victim of the Hillsborough tragedy that is never often spoken of by the media. A forgotten story that is just as heartbreaking as the ones of fans who were crushed in the Leppings Lane end during that FA Cup semi-final.
In 2011, an inquest revealed that 50-year old Stephen Whittle suffered from depressing and anxiety in the weeks after the tragedy, because he could not deal with the guilt of selling his friend who died in the crush a ticket for the match.
He took medication for his depression and his family were aware of his troubles, but they didn’t know how bad it had gotten and how it still affected him even 22 years after the disaster.
In 2011, he jumped in front of a train and killed himself, and is now thought of as the 97th Hillsborough victim. A forum has been set up on Liverpool FC’s forum to honour him.
User Phil posted: “As we all know, Hillsborough has had a massive impact on the lives of the survivors as well as the 96. Something that I don’t think is mentioned enough is just how much of an impact it had on those who weren’t even there that day.
“We’ll never know all of the thoughts that went on in his mind in the years following Hillsborough, but I am fairly confident that things were made worse by the cover up and press coverage.”
Kellso1 posted in reply: “To think people have had to suffer these thoughts and feelings at the hands of the guilty trying to wash themselves of blame, disgusting to say the least.”
When the inquest on Mr Whittle was held, coroner Jennifer Leeming recorded a narrative verdict.
She added: “That awful tragic event that happened so long ago is still reaching out and touching people.
“Especially for a man who was so keen on football, it was a big part of his life and to have that awful event associated with such a pleasure must have been troubling as the years went on.
“He was clearly a very private man who didn’t confide, even the good things, to his family.
“He was clearly a popular man both in work and at home.”
Mr Whittle had worked as a fabricator at PPG Industries Ltd in Hindley Green for around 20 years.
By Ben Kelly – @benkelly_10