Mum’s heartache after son hangs himself at hospital’s £20m specialist suicide ward — (Daily Record)

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Daily Record

By Marion Scott


LIAM MCQUADE killed himself at a showpiece observational ward designed to save suicidal patients.

A YOUNG man in a hospital observation ward was able to hang himself in a £20 million unit designed to save suicidal patients.

Depressed Liam McQuade, 26, from Arbroath, was admitted to the showpiece Susan Carnegie Centre at Stracathro Hospital in Angus after his family discovered he was trawling suicide websites.

They were assured he was on close observation at the NHS Tayside unit.

But after a heartbreaking last message to his fiancee on January 28, Liam killed himself.

His mum Jody, 45, said: “He didn’t want to go into hospital but doctors insisted. We trusted he was in a safe place, getting the help he needed.

“I just can’t understand how Liam was able to do what he did without anyone being able stop him.”

Liam and fiancee Louise Howie, 24, had been together for four years. She has been shattered by his death.

Louise said: “Liam had just been told by his psychiatrist that he wasn’t well enough to get out of hospital for a few more weeks so he was particularly vulnerable.

“We’d been told he was under close observation with a nurse watching him.

“But then I got a text message which read, ‘I love you xxx – I’ve been trying to work out a way to kill myself.’

“I was frantic and texted Liam back, ‘Baby don’t try that please, please don’t try anything.’

“He sent another message saying, ‘I’ve lost hope. They know how bad I am. They’re not stupid. They’re not letting me out of here.’

“I called the ward and someone told me they’d seen him walking about.

“They said he’d seemed less anxious and was probably having his tea. But something just didn’t feel right and I rushed to the hospital to see for myself.

“From what I’ve learned now, I believe Liam was probably already dead when staff told me he was having his tea.”

When Louise arrived at the hospital, near Forfar, she saw police interviewing staff.

She said: “At first I thought Liam had run away. I was shown into what looked like an art therapy room and one of the staff made a joke about how I should maybe try painting while I waited.

“I couldn’t believe it when the police told me Liam was dead.

“Staff had made jokes about me painting while Liam was lying dead a few yards away.”

Louise was then shown Liam’s body and asked to identify him.

She said: “I couldn’t believe they were asking me to identify the man I loved, right after he’d died like that. I was so distressed, I ran from the room in floods of tears.

“Liam and I loved each other. He was devoted to my four-year-old daughter Katie and she misses him so much.”

Jody, who also has two teenage children, said: “My son wasn’t a drinker or into drugs. In fact, for the last year, he was on a real health kick and going to the gym.

“But a few months ago he changed from being a happy joker and just slid into depression.”

Liam began looking at online suicide sites and asked if he could go to Switzerland to end his life.

Jody said: “We made sure he got medical help. But the anti-depressants seemed to make him worse and doctors kept increasing the dose.”

In mid January, Liam was told he required hospital treatment.

NHS Tayside, headed by Gerry Marr, are the only UK health authority to have had criminal charges taken against them for allowing a patient to commit suicide.

In 2004 they were fined £10,000 for allowing psychiatric patient Rhona McDonald, 37, from Arbroath, to hang herself in a ward where window fixtures had previously been identified as a suicide risk.

In the landmark case, health chiefs accepted responsibility for the 2001 death at Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose.

NHS Tayside said: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to Mr McQuade’s family.

“We are carrying out a significant clinical events analysis into the circumstances surrounding Mr McQuade’s death and we have invited his family to be closely involved in this.”

Tayside Police said: “When it comes to the identification of the deceased, officers will always endeavour to achieve this in a manner that presents the least distress to those carrying out the identification.

“This may mean that formal identification is made at a venue other than the police mortuary.

‘’There were no apparent suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and a report was submitted to the procurator fiscal.’’