Washington mother committed suicide weeks after hospital discharge

JPCT 230413 County Hall North, Horsham, West Sussex. Photo by Derek Martin ENGPPP00320130424214348
JPCT 230413 County Hall North, Horsham, West Sussex. Photo by Derek Martin ENGPPP00320130424214348

A daughter has told an inquest how she coped when her mother was discharged from a mental health hospital.

Margaret Ryan, 51, of The Holt, Washington, committed suicide at home on June 24, 2015 following two admissions to mental health hospitals in Mill View in Brighton and Langley Green in Crawley.

Eleanor Jennings, who often came home from university to look after her mother, said: “I was 19 when it started. It began with a pain in her mouth. She refused to get help or see anyone.

“She refused to eat. She refused to do anything. All I could get her to do was play cards.”

An inquest into Margaret Ryan’s death was held in Horsham on November 18.

The coroner heard Mrs Ryan was supported by a crisis team from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust after leaving Mill Wiew.

But she asked nurses not to share any information about her mental health with her daughter, which meant Miss Jennings could not legally be told what support her mother was receiving.

Miss Jennings said her mother, who was good at covering up her symptoms, threatened to commit suicide regularly and had to be watched by her family.

“I thought the first time she went into hospital she would come out and be okay. I thought the crisis team would be in touch,” she said.

“She was left in my care days after her suicide attempt. I didn’t feel that was fair.”

Mental health nurses from the crisis team at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said Mrs Ryan was looking forward to going back to work and moving back Brighton.

However, Anneka Ong, mental health nurse said she believed Mrs Ryan was improving despite being told she wanted to ‘go to Switzerland for euthanasia’.

Miss Ong said ‘in hindsight’ she would have contacted Miss Jennings.

Miss Jennings, who questioned what would class as a ‘good reason to break confidentiality’, said: “In my experience the safety of the patient should be the number one issue. You should come to the family.”

A letter was sent to the GP expressing the family’s concern about Mrs Ryan a week before she died, expressing a mental health assessment would be undertaken. However, it did not occur.

Coroner David Skipp said Mrs Ryan’s intention was to make sure she didn’t survive the suicide attempt.

Recording a narrative verdict, Dr Skipp, said: “Margaret Ryan, who suffered from mental health problems, necessitated admission to mental health units on two occasions. She twice attempted suicide and threatened this numerous times.

“Her condition caused her family to express concerns while receiving care in the community but a full mental health assessment by the mental health team was not undertaken.

“She took her own life.”

Dr Skipp said Mrs Ryan’s daughter Eleanor did everything she could.

“I think the help that was given was all that could be done,” he said.

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