MP Owen Paterson says catching Covid affected his wife's mental health

Veteran MP Owen Paterson believes catching coronavirus affected his wife’s mental health before she tragically killed herself on his birthday – and tells of his ‘utter devastation’

  • Rose Paterson, 64, took own life in woodland in Ellsemere, Shropshire, in June 
  • Her husband and Tory MP Owen Paterson spoke about the day of her death 
  • Explained he was so desperate for it not be suicide, he hoped she was murdered 
  • Believes contracting coronavirus in first lockdown affected her mental health 
  • He and his three children launching a suicide prevention charity in her honour 

Conservative MP Owen Paterson believes catching coronavirus affected his wife’s mental health before she tragically killed herself on his birthday and tells of his ‘utter devastation’.  

Rose Paterson, who was 64 and chairman of Aintree Racecourse, took her own life in woodland close to the couple’s home near Ellesmere, Shropshire in June last year. 

She gave no clue she was planning to take her own life before hanging herself in the woods. But she had researched suicide on the internet two weeks before, it was later discovered. 

Paterson, who has been an MP for 23 years, told The Telegraph he had wished it ‘would be anything but suicide’ and at one point hoped she had been murdered. 

The father of three also touched on the hearthbreaking loss of his wife and the events that unfolded on the day of her death.  

MP Owen Paterson’s wife Rose (pictured together)  took her own life in June 2020 spoke of his agony losing his wife and how he hoped she had been murdered as opposed to suicide

The North Shropshire MP has suggested coming down with coronavirus at the start of the first lockdown affected Rose’s mental health 

‘Ongoing research into the virus shows that, while it has a bigger, physical effect on men, women are disproportionately affected neurologically,’ he said. 

‘Some it seems have had mini strokes and others behavioural changes,’ he added. 

He is now fearful the Covid restrictions will affect the mental health of many people and appealed to anyone feeling down or unhappy to tell someone.

‘Nothing, absolutely nothing justifies taking your own life.

‘The effect it has on family and friends is absolutely catastrophic and life lasting. If I can prevent just one other family going through this, it will be worthwhile.’

Rose Paterson, who was 64 and chairman of Aintree Racecourse, took her own life in woodland close to the couple’s home near Ellesmere, Shropshire in June last year

He has also placed blame on suicide websites such as those she accessed weeks before her death, criticising the fact they ‘lure’ people in but do not explain how people’s loved ones feel after someone takes their own life. 

‘These sites use incredibly seductive language, very measured narrative and are horribly inviting,’ he said.

‘I am looking to see if there is any way anything can be done about these dreadful sites.’ 

After their own experiences Mr Patterson and his children. sons Felix and Ned and daugther Evie, are planning to launch The Rose Paterson Trust which will work towards suicide prevention.

It will be launched on April 10, the day of the Grand National which is held at Aintree Racecourse of which Rose was the chairman.  

The former Cabinet minister spoke about the events that happened on the day of his wife’s death and touched on the lasting effect it has had on him.

He is not longer able to bring himself to listen to certain songs which remind him of her and said his first Christmas without her was a ‘blur’. 

On the morning of his 64th birthday, June 24, 2020, he rang home from the House of Commons but there was no answer and he assumed she was busy with commitments. 

Rose, the daughter of the 4th Viscount Ridley, and sister of the current viscount, the Times science writer Matt Ridley, had plans to journey down to London to visit an aunt before a birthday dinner for her husband.  

Mr Paterson spoke of events on the day, starting with a phone call home from The House of Commons

He rang again at 6pm and again no one answered and he started to become concerned as she would almost always be back home by then. 

A few more hours passed and still no one had heard from Rose, including their son Ned, 32, who was the person to see her the night before. 

Paterson decided to call the police at around 8.15pm.

People in the area rallied together to search for her along with helicopters while Paterson and his son Felix, 34, rushed 200 miles back to Shropshire from London. 

He said while they drove up they went through every possibility of what could have happened to her. 

‘We had all these crazy ideas. We never, ever thought of suicide,’ he said. 

He assumed his wife was too busy to answer the phone but the family started to become concerned when she still did not answer the phone that same evening, which happened to be the day of his 64th birthday. Pictured: The couple with their daughter Evie

As soon as they arrived home, just after midnight, the police asked him if his wife had ever struggled with depression, a suggestion which he instantly shot down. 

The search continued into the night until 4am when the police informed him they had found the body of a woman which matched the description of his wife. 

Paterson was then faced with the impossible task of telling their 28-year-old daughter Evie who was holidaying in France.  

Rose left no note for her family and had made plans to travel overseas to see one of their three adult children.  

He hopes by sharing his story he may be able to help other people.  

Speaking about his loss, the former Paterson said he sat by his wife’s grave for two hours at their family home on Christmas Day, playing the music that she loved, and that he beats himself up about her death every day

Along with a daughter, Evie, the Patersons also have two sons Felix (left) and Ned (right) and they are all working together to launch The  Rose Paterson Trust which will work towards suicide prevention

Last year Paterson told MailOnline of the ‘unimaginable anguish’ his family is suffering in the wake of their heartbreaking loss and said the desk of his ‘best friend’ Rose has remained untouched since the day she died. 

The father of three says the hardest part is the fact Rose will not see their 21-month-old granddaughter Sylvie grow up. 

He he told MailOnline: ‘We had been together for 45 years and married for 40. She was my best friend and I don’t think that I have even begun to take in what has happened.

‘She was a major figure in the racing industry and she played such a big role in many charities and trusts, such as Weston Park. 

‘This year alone she raised £35,000 for the Horatio’s Garden project for patients with spinal injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

‘She was so well liked, so full of life.’

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to

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