World News: Friend of mum-of-three who jumped from P&O cruise liner opens up on how mum’s behaviour mysteriously changed before tragedy

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A CLOSE pal of a woman who jumped to her death from a luxury cruise ship has told how the mum’s mood changed dramatically a day before the tragedy.

Mum-of-three Natasha Schofield, 47, from Brisbane, Australia, threw herself overboard on Thursday  while on the “holiday of a lifetime”.

The Aussie mum can be seen in the waves moments after going overboard

But her friend, Damon Smith, said Natasha would never have wanted to hurt her family.

He told Mail Online: “Tash would never intentionally hurt her husband or children, her family or friends – everything that has happened on that boat is the complete opposite to what she would ever want.

“She must have arrived in a very dark and desperate place in her mind, very very quickly.”

Mr Smith said he heard from Natasha’s husband that her behaviour began to change in the 24 hours leading up to her suicide.

He explained: “(Her husband) said she didn’t seem herself for just over a day but she assured him she was fine.”

A haunting photo shows the moment Natasha was swallowed up by the sea.

Natasha Schofield, 47, is presumed dead after the search was called off

The mum can be seen bobbing about in the waves close to a life ring just seconds after falling from P&O’s Pacific Dawn vessel.

The ship ground to a halt as the alarm was raised and crew searched the area throughout the night on Thursday.

But by Friday morning the search was abandoned as a huge swell surrounded the boat.

A P&O spokesman said expert advice was that “survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible”.

Her body has not been found and she is presumed dead.

Initial reports suggested Ms Schofield was swept into the ocean by a colossal wave.

But police confirmed she jumped into the sea as she stood next to her husband on the deck.

Queensland Police Inspector Rob Graham said: “This wasn’t an accident.

“Let’s be open and honest about mental health.

“It’s a tragic end to what should’ve been a lifetime holiday experience for a loving family.”

P&O’s Pacific Dawn vessel has now returned to Brisbane after the tragedy
Crew on board the ship searched through the night but without success

The couple were on the cruise with their three children — two girls and a boy, aged between 12 and 16.

Ms Schofield’s partner desperately tried to catch her as she went over, police said.

Inspector Graham said: “What you’ve got is a loving husband who was there when his wife departed.

“Her husband was standing right next to her when she went over.

“Her husband tried to grab on to her … her legs.”

Inspector Rob Graham said the tragedy was no accident and the mum had jumped

Inspector Graham said police don’t believe the children were in the area where she died.

He said: “We can only hope they didn’t see.

“We’re just lucky that there’s not two people missing.”

Officers reviewed CCTV footage and interviewed witnesses before making the announcement that it was a deliberate act.

CCTV showed the woman and her husband walking along the cruise deck after going for dinner before she went overboard, Inspector Graham said.

He said: “They were walking along … stopped for a while, leaning over and then the intentional act took place.”

Witnesses had said the woman had been watching onboard activities moments before the incident and that they had seen her leaning over the edge, thinking she was vomiting.

Her distraught husband collapsed in shock after the incident, according to witnesses.

Passengers departing the ship after it arrived back in Brisbane today praised staff on the ship for their professionalism.

A version of this story originally appeared on

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans on (free) 116123 or 020 7734 2800. 


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