Suicidal Hannah Groves did not get the support and care she needed
The Mirror reports: “In the UK the number of women taking their own lives has grown steadily since 2011. Mental health issues make up 23 per cent of those with health problems making contact with the NHS. But mental health provision has received only 13 per cent of the overall funding. Since 2011 the number of beds for mental health patients has fallen by 8 per cent.”
Last year female suicides hit a ten year high. In 2015 – 2016, only 55% of mental health trusts reported increases to budgets since 2012, when “parity of esteem” with physical health was promised by the government.
Last year, a leaked report by a government taskforce painted a bleak picture of England’s mental health services, revealing that the number of people killing themselves was soaring, three-quarters of those with psychiatric conditions were not being helped, and sick children were being sent “almost anywhere in the country” for treatment. Suicide in England is now rising “following many years of decline”, with 4,477 suicides in an average year. There has also been a 10% increase in the number of people sectioned under the Mental Health Act over the past year, suggesting their needs are not being met early enough. In some parts of the country, more than 10% of children seeking help are having appointments with specialists cancelled as a result of staff shortages.
Commenting on the situation last year, Labour’s mental health spokesperson, Luciana Berger, said the figures are a “wake-up call” for ministers.
“Ministers talk about making mental health a priority, but in reality they have presided over service cuts, staff shortages and widespread poor-quality care, with devastating consequences,” she said.
“It is particularly worrying that women’s suicide rates in England are now the highest they have been for a decade. Ministers must identify the reasons behind this drastic increase and take the urgent action needed to tackle it.”
Hannah Groves is one victim of a growing mental health crisis among women, as female suicide rates hit a ten-year high last year. Hannah’s desperate mother begged for help in vain more than 100 times over nine days before her daughter killed herself.
Mandy Park’s distraught pleas were not only ignored by a Southern Health Trust mental health worker, they were ridiculed. Hannah was labelled an “attention seeker” and a “f***ing waste of space”.
Hours later Hannah was found dead at home, aged just 20. Hannah had made numerous suicide attempts in the nine days before her death yet was repeatedly denied admission to hospital.
Last year, the privatised Southern Health NHS Trust – which runs a series of mental health services across the county and is headquartered in Tatchbury Mount, Calmore – was condemned by the Care Quality Commission after failing to protect patients and investigate the deaths of hundreds of people in its care, following a scathing independent report. The Trust has been the subject of independent government reviews since it was revealed it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of its patients between 2011 and 2015. See also: Southern Health NHS Trust, a Drowning and a Call for Better Care Everywhere and Embattled NHS trust boss quits role but will keep salary and benefits in new job and Southern Health criticised for putting ‘patients at risk’.
Hannah was a straight-A student studying French at university, and she had no mental health problems until October 2012. Mandy believes she suffered a sudden onset of psychosis, but this was not diagnosed because she was not properly assessed.
On the night she got ill, Mandy gave Hannah a lift to her boyfriend’s and later had a panicked call from him.She picked up her daughter but on the trip home Hanna repeatedly tried to jump from the moving car. She also attempted to run into oncoming traffic.
Mandy said: “She was such a sweet, gentle person. But it was like she was possessed.
“Her voice had changed and she was speaking in a monotone.
“She didn’t smoke but she would pace the floor, chain-smoking and staring into space. I was terrified of my own girl. She kept saying she felt numb.”
Mandy took Hannah to A&E where the medical staff referred her to the Trust’s mental health crisis team. However, staff from the trust assessed Hannah and decided she did not meet the criteria for a bed in Antelope House, in her home town Southampton.
Over the next week she repeatedly attempted suicide. Mandy took her to hospital, to her GP and even to an out of area mental heath facility, desperately trying to get help.
Police and paramedics regularly attended the family home and she begged mental health workers to intervene, in vain.
Mandy said: “One time she had a scarf round her neck and I had to hold her down. I spent hours on the phone to the mental health team but they would sigh as soon as I told them who I was.
Hannah even got hold of the phone herself and was repeatedly telling them she was going to kill herself but they did nothing.”
Three days before her death, Hannah was taken to A&E once more, but was sent home again by the mental health Trust.
Mandy said: “Hannah fell on the floor in a heap. It was heartbretking. She knew she needed help.”
The evening before Hannah’s death, on October 22, 2012, her boyfriend brought her orange roses and she wrote the words “I’m still alive” on a chalkboard. Mandy recalled she was so hopeful, she said: “I thought I was getting her back.”
The next day Mandy had to call the police after Hannah threatened to kill her family. She was arrested under the Mental Health Act.
Again, staff at Antelope House refused to admit her after a social worker told the police detention officer she was a “f***ing waste of space” an “attention seeker”.
Just hours later, Mandy found her daughter’s body. She had left her home for a matter of minutes to call the crisis team, begging for help once again.
Mandy painfully remembers “At the hospital I stood there while they did CPR. Then they said there was nothing more they could do. I fell on the floor, screaming the place down.”
The grieving mother decided to call medical negligence solicitor, Nick Fairweather, to fight for justice in her daughter’s memory.
Mandy was heartbroken and physically sick when she heard the comments about Hannah, who was a constant danger to herself.
Mandy said: “It beggars belief that anyone could treat another human that way.
“Hannah changed overnight from a happy young woman to a totally different person. She was my world.
“I love and miss her. She had so much to live for and to give. If she’d got the right treatment she’d still be here.”
Last month Mandy, a former support worker for deaf children, was awarded £260,000 in an out-of-court medical negligence settlement from Southern Health Trust.
The Trust admitted that Mandy had been a “secondary victim” of its failings after she developed post-traumatic stress disorder and spent six weeks in a specialist mental health facility. She has also contemplated suicide, but felt she could not leave her son Patrick, 21, without a mum.
Mandy said: “Finding Hannah’s body was the worst moment of my life. I have flashbacks every day. It’s like a film on a constant loop.
“The effects of these failings have been catastrophic. I’m terrified it will happen to someone else’s child.”
The Health Care Professions Council ruled the insults about Hannah were “undoubtedly spoken” but failed to prove the case against a named social worker.
Coroner Keith Wiseman delivered a narrative verdict at her inquest and ruled the Trust had “not adequately identified” the risks to Hannah.
Mandy said: “Everyone says I did everything I could but there are times when the guilt kicks in. I wonder if I should’ve just handcuffed us both to Antelope House.
“It’s 2017 but our attitude to mental health beggars belief – especially from those supposedly trained in this field.”
She added: “A lot of people do judge, and say, ‘Snap out of it.’ But no one would ever tell you to snap out of it if you had cancer. Something has to change.”
Julie Dawes, interim chief executive of Southern Health said: “I apologise again on behalf of the trust for letting Miss Groves down in 2012 and I send my condolences to her family.”
If you feel suicidal, need support and someone to speak to, Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. Call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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