Pregnant woman jumps to death because she was having twin boys


The body of Anna Byrne, 35, was found by a helicopter the following day.


Dan Kitwood

A pregnant woman who was devastated when she learned she was having twin boys jumped from a cliff in Ireland, a coroner's court was told. 

Anna Byrne who already had two sons, desperately wanted a girl, The Irish Times reported.

But when an ultrasound showed she would be having two more boys, she became overwhelmed and depressed.

Her body was found at the bottom of a cliff on the Irish Sea off Howth, north county Dublin, in March. She was due to give birth within weeks, the Irish Central reported. 

Byrne, who had a history of depression, had left a "particularly heart rending" farewell letter but it was not dated, the court was told. 

Her husband, Terry, said he had no indication his wife was going to take her own life, and he had spoken to her on the phone hours beforehand. 

In his statement, Terry Byrne said his wife and two young sons were asleep when he left for work at 6.30 a.m on Wednesday, March 7th.

Four hours later, his wife phoned from the car park of a shopping centre to say she was doing some grocery shopping.

“At the end of the call, I told her to phone anytime if there was anything,” he told the court.

“We told each other that we loved each other and I said ‘I’ll see you later’.”

The alarm was raised at 1.30pm when Mrs Byrne failed to collect her son from school. 

The court heard that six days before her death, Byrne saw her psychiatrist, Dr John Sheehan, who noted she was “preoccupied with having a daughter” and felt “devastated” when she discovered she was carrying twin boys.

She described “not feeling maternal” and said she felt overwhelmed at the thought of raising four boys, but Sheehan said she showed no signs of a suicidal risk and presented as “low risk" as she was making plans for the future. 

The 35-year-old had been taking an anti-depressant regularly during her pregnancy and Sheehan doubled her dosage and advised her to see a counsellor in her area.

He told the court she was suffering a recurrence of depression associated with an adjustment disorder to her twin pregnancy of boys, he said. 

But she was not showing extreme signs of severe depression that would warrant hospitalization.

The coroner returned an open verdict because although he was not saying that Byrne did not take her own life, the evidence heard in court did not satisfy the legal test for a verdict of suicide, the Irish Independent reported.