A local government director, described as "generous and caring", killed herself over spiralling debts an inquest heard.

Caroline Riikonen, 53, was found by a neighbour on February 10 at her home in Kingston Road, Wimbledon, slumped behind her front door.

She had suffocated.

A neighbour raised the alarm after noticing her door ajar and called the emergency services, but she was confirmed dead at the scene at 9.15am.

She had left several notes addressed to friends and neighbours, as well as to the coroner and police, clearly identifying her intentions.

At an inquest into her death on Friday, April 20, HM Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe read part of her note in court which said: "I have lived frugally but incurred large debts.

"I rely on my friends for money for food and travel but don’t want to sponge off them anymore."

Miss Riikonen, who had a degree in Politics from the University of Leicester and an MBA, enjoyed a successful career working in finance.

She had taken on temporary roles, including an interim role as the head of finance for children’s services at Lambeth Council and worked as a financial consultant for the Metropolitan Police, but had recently struggled to find employment and had run up large debts.

Coroner Radcliffe said it was clear Miss Riikonen had been "putting on a brave face" and hiding the extent of her problems despite the "turmoil she was obviously feeling".

Bridgett Butt, 52, from north London, had been a friend of Miss Riikonen's for nearly 30 years.

She said: "I wasn’t aware of the full extent and I think all her friends felt the same.

"If we had known the extent of the problem we would have tried to do more.

"She was a very proud person."

Mrs Butt described her friend as a "very hospitable" and "artistic" woman who enjoyed gardening, cooking and was known for dressing with "style and elegance".

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Butt said: "She adored cooking for people and entertaining.

"She loved baking and one of her specialities was Finnish loaf, which was delicious.

"I could never go around there and leave empty handed."

She was also interested in history and kept a blog documenting her visits to sites of interest, alongside her own photography, under the name The Brimstone Butterfly.

Coroner Radcliffe recorded a verdict of suicide.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty you can call the Citizens Advice Bureau in Merton on 0844 243 8430, or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 if you are feeling suicidal or depressed.