The family of a Prestwich headteacher who died last year have paid tribute to ‘an incredible role model.’

Benjamin Sulzbacher, 48, was described as a ‘caring, present and loving man’ after he was found dead at Philips Park on September, 27 2023, just days after being discharged from The Priory, a private hospital in Altrincham.

At an inquest hearing at Rochdale Coroner’s Court, his son-in-law Alex Whittler said his father-in-law “really loved and cared for us”.

“He was an incredible role model and loved by everyone, he was an extremely special person, very genuine and real.”

The court heard that Benjamin, who was appointed as headteacher at Manchester Mestiva School in 2011, began to struggle with depression and anxiety in February 2021.

Mr Whittler told the court that his father-in-law had been “struggling” in the months before his hospitalisation and said this had been linked to stress at work and a fear of losing his job.

“He was struggling a bit with the job situation; he didn’t know what he wanted to do next,” Mr Whittler added.

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The court heard that in August 2023, Benjamin had threatened to take his own life and his family had seen him with a rope, which he had put in the back of his car.

Following this, his family called an ambulance, and he was later admitted to the Priory on August 26, where he spent three weeks as an in-patient.

On August 29, Benjamin’s brother informed his family that he had concerns over the level of care and monitoring he had been receiving on the ward, after another ligature was found in Benjamin’s possession, which was reported to the staff.

Mr Whittler also raised concerns with The Priory after he was informed that Benjamin would be eligible for a two-day home visit between September 8 and 10.

He said: “This was 10 days after being admitted being actively suicidal, we couldn’t get our heads around it.

“It didn’t make sense for him to be home.”

While Benjamin did not return home on September 8, he did visit home later that month to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year on September 15.

He was formally discharged from The Priory on September 19, which prompted further concerns from his family who say they were not told he was being discharged. The court heard he returned home by taxi, rather than being collected.

Mr Whittler added: “We didn’t see any discharge papers, there were no plans in place.”

The court heard that prior to his stay at The Priory, Benjamin had been seeing a private therapist, Matthew Kanter, who had continued to see him during his stay at the Priory, without the knowledge of staff.

Jennifer McVittie, a mental health nurse, confirmed that a patient safety action plan had been put together following an investigation into practices at the hospital.

The investigation found that Benjamin had not been subject to a face-to-face follow-up appointment with a home-based treatment team, as is usually offered to NHS patients 72-hours after discharge, and which is also available to private patients.

However, The Priory did conduct a follow-up phone call with Benjamin after discharge, during which a nurse found “no concerns” with his state of mind.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, senior coroner for Manchester North, Joanne Kearsley ruled that Benjamin had died from hanging, and said he had “intended to take his own life.”

She added: "I've heard what a pillar of the community he was, everyone who gave evidence spoke quite highly of him." 

She added that, despite concerns from his family, Benjamin's discharge from hospital had been "appropriate" and he had "wanted to go home."

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Ms Kearsley told the court that "there was no reason that he had to be detained at that point" but said that the Priory should have given his family more information about home-based treatment. 

She added that she would be likely to issue a Regulation 28, prevention of future deaths report, with respect to private funding and its relation to home-based aftercare. 

She also raised concerns about Benjamin's private psychotherapist, Mr Kanter and his level of contact with Benjamin while he was an in-patient, particularly as patients are not meant to see multiple therapists at the same time.

She informed the court she would refer Mr Kanter to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the regulatory body for therapeutic practice.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place to talk for anyone who is struggling to cope.

Call 116 123 (this number is free to call and will not appear on your phone bill), 01204 521200 or email