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The Daily Mail
By Sarah Arnold
Published: 19:13 GMT, 10 May 2016 | Updated: 12:47 GMT, 16 May 2016
- Mother of Paul Gascoigne’s nephew says he battled mental health demons
- She revealed her son begged to be sectioned five weeks before his death
- Like Paul, 22-year-old Jay suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Anna-Maria Kerrigan hit out at ‘untruthful’ reports her son was a ‘druggie’
- Anna-Maria said the system repeatedly failed Jay in the lead up to his death
The grieving mother of Paul Gascoigne’s nephew has revealed her son begged to be sectioned five weeks before he died as he battled mental health demons.
Anna-Maria Kerrigan, of Gateshead, said like her famous brother, her 22-year-old son Jay suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, first triggered when he was bullied at 13-years-old at school.
Until the age of 16, Jay was given regular, specialist help by children’s mental health services.
The mother of Paul Gascoigne’s nephew Jay (pictured on holiday with his sister Harley in Portugal in 2013) has revealed her son begged to be sectioned five weeks before he died as he battled mental health demons
Tragic: Anna-Maria Kerrigan, of Gateshead, said like her famous brother, her 22-year-old son Jay suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Pictured are the final photos of Jay taken over the last few months
But as soon as he was transferred to adult care, she says he was pushed from pillar to post – and for the past two years, until he was found dead on April 30, he slipped into decline, as the system repeatedly failed him.
‘For years I feared I’d get a knock on the door about Paul, but never, in my deepest, darkest nightmares did I think I’d get a call to tell me I’d lost my son,’ Anna-Maria said.
‘Jay, his sister Harley, his stepdad Michael and I have begged for years for Jay to get the correct help that he needed but he was let down, time and time again by the services.
‘He was passed around like a number and not at all treated like a young man in desperate need.
‘He didn’t deserve to die. He needed help.’
Anna-Maria also spoke out for the first time since her loss to hit out at ‘cruel and untruthful’ reports that her son was a ‘druggie’.
‘I’ve been so torn, as while some people might condemn me for deciding to speak out so soon, I can’t let Jay go to his grave labelled a druggie,’ she said.
‘Everybody that met our Jay knew he was the most polite, well-mannered, talented, beautiful, yet tortured soul.
‘I’m doing this, and I think it’s disgusting that I feel compelled to speak out when I haven’t even buried my son yet, because I have to tell all the people who never met him that my son wasn’t found in a crack house with a heroin needle in his arm.
Until the age of 16, Jay was given regular, specialist help by children’s mental health services, his mother (pictured) said. But as soon as he was transferred to adult care, she says he was pushed from pillar to post
‘He wasn’t a druggie, he was suffering from mental health issues so I’m doing this for Jay and the other sons and daughters who can’t get the help they need.’
Born prematurely, Jay had a happy childhood, surrounded by the close-knit Gascoigne family who all live on the same estate in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
‘Jay’s father John walked out on us when he was six, which impacted enormously on him and his sister Harley, but my family rallied round,’ Anna-Maria said.
‘While his uncle Paul was loved by most, unfortunately a few were not fans and as a small 12-year-old, Jay was bullied at school beyond words. Just a week after he started senior school, one even broke his arm.
‘He developed anorexia and would not eat and drink and shortly after he developed OCD, along with depression, anxiety and self harming.’.
Anna-Maria said like her famous brother (pictured in 1990), her 22-year-old son Jay suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
At 13-years-old he was taken into a residential children’s unit for mental health illnesses, and became the youngest child in his country to be given Prozac, which caused seizures.
Anna-Maria said: ‘As everyone knows, Paul has had a well documented battle with mental health and OCD. At the time a psychiatrist said it could be a hereditary thing. But with support we thought Jay would eventually come through the worst.’
Once he reached 16, considered an adult, the support offered as a child stopped.
‘Jay got through college and he was so ambitious. They always said Paul was the talented one, but Jay had an equally amazing gift for writing poetry, lyrics and songs which he played on his guitar.
‘But by the age of 17, his OCD and depression really took hold and the help just wasn’t there that he’d had as a child,’ said Anna-Maria, who married Mencap support worker Michael, 42, in 2008.
Jay’s OCD triggered a devastating condition of Intrusive Thoughts, she explained, adding: ‘It wasn’t that everything has to be neat and tidy, these intrusive thoughts meant he believed he couldn’t blink, or even go to get a glass or water without being wracked with a fear something terrible would happen.
‘He couldn’t function without these destructive thoughts tormenting him and he couldn’t escape from them. It left him anguished and anxious – it caused him pain as it was like a constant, mental torture that impacted on every part of his life.’
Over the past two years Jay’s mental health went into decline.
When he started an apprenticeship for environmental charity Groundwork in November, sitting opposite his mother, everyone hoped it would mark a turning point.
‘We prayed he’d find a focus away from his OCD, and there were good months and bad months but in November he was in hospital, then in December and January he had further hospital admissions, including when he self harmed, causing a massive infection throughout his body that affected his heart and other organs.
‘By then, he’d started taking prescription painkillers as they would give him some peace from his mental pain and physical pain, in addition to antidepressants for his depression. There was also suspicions he had Bipolar, which would have meant he was on the wrong medication, but it was never explored further, so he never received help for that,’ Anna-Maria said.
Over the past two years Jay’s mental health went into decline. He is pictured aged 13 with his stepfather
In March Jay was admitted to hospital for the final time after his mental health declined further and he collapsed.
‘It was his fourth admission in five months and when the mental health team came down Jay said he knew he needed help, both with his mental health issues and to also withdraw him from prescription pain killers.
‘He begged: “Please, please section me, I’m not getting the help I need”. They said: “You are not appropriate, you need detox for the use of prescription drugs. Then we took him to the drug and alcohol services and they said there’s a 10 day programme and at the end of the period, he would be fine and they told him to come in on Monday.
‘Jay felt so positive for the first time in about two years, so much so he went to the appointment by himself for the first time ever, to start what we thought was a 10 day medically supervised programme.
‘But they just gave him paracetamol, something for nausea and something for stomach cramps and sent him away. They said he didn’t need a detox because he was not an addict. Yet the mental health services said he was inappropriate for help as he needed a detox from prescription painkillers. This was 10 days before
Born prematurely, Jay had a happy childhood, surrounded by the close-knit Gascoigne family who all live on the same estate in Gateshead
‘So yet again he was let down by the system. He fell straight through the cracks. Instead of working together to save my son they just passed him around.’
Anna-Maria spent much of the day with Jay on Friday April 29 when he had to go for a Personal Independence Payment assessment, which had continued alongside his apprenticeship wages.
She said: ‘The assessment was intense. Jay talked about his pain and mental health issues and how it affected his life. He’d had so many doctors and crisis team people over the years and to go over it all over again knowing at the end of it he wasn’t getting any help hit him hard.
‘He said to the medical assessor: “I’m fractured”. All she was there to do was to write a note to send to the DWP. She wasn’t going to give him any support or help – but he wanted them to know how much pain he was in.
‘Afterwards I was going to get him a pair of new trainers for our holiday to New York, which coincided with my 50th birthday but he said: “You know my size mam” and told me he wanted to go and see his girlfriend Jade.
‘So I bought them some food from Greggs and said: “I’ll see you later” in the middle of the busy shopping centre. There was people buzzing all around us, then there was a split second pause where we just looked at each other, before he came over to me, put his arms round me, kissed me and said: “I love you”. Thank God I heard those words for the last time.
‘Later, I phoned him up at his girlfriend’s, saying: “Do you both want to come over?” He said: “Jade’s at work I’ll just wait for her to come home”. When I put the phone down I thought he was OK…’
In fact, when Jade came home she found Jay unconscious in her flat and she performed CPR until the paramedics and police arrived.
‘There was nothing they could do to save him,’ Anna-Maria said.
‘My son wasn’t found in a crack den with a heroin needle sticking in his arm. My son was madly and deeply in love with his beautiful girlfriend and she madly and deeply loved him too.
‘He’d told her as she’d left hours earlier: “I love you. The adventures we’ll go on when I get better”. So he didn’t want to die. Yet because he didn’t get help, he did die, alone in her flat.’
A celebration of Jay Gascoigne’s life will be held this Wednesday, the same day of the week he was born, followed by a private crematorium service for family and close friends. He is pictured with Harley in 2008″
A celebration of Jay Gascoigne’s life will be held this Wednesday, the same day of the week he was born, followed by a private crematorium service for family and close friends. He is pictured with Harley in 2008
Jade’s mother called Anna-Maria shortly after midnight on Saturday April 30 to break the terrible news.
‘We didn’t know at that point he’d already gone, but I jumped out of bed sobbing – I had a sixth sense and somehow I just knew.
‘Harley came downstairs we drove to the foyer where Jade’s flat is. The policeman came to get me and I said: “Is he alive?”
‘When he didn’t answer he confirmed my worst fears. I just rang my mam, my sister and sister in law.
‘When we finally saw my son laying so still and lifeless, my legs just went and I fell to the floor. Harley threw herself on top of him saying: “wake up Jay” and I crawled across the floor to get to him and I couldn’t let him go.’
Anna-Maria marked her 50th birthday on Friday, a week after her son’s death, by opening her cards and presents beside him, as he lay in a guitar shaped casket, wearing his grandfather’s
Anna-Maria marked her 50th birthday on Friday, a week after her son’s death, by opening her cards and presents beside him, as he lay in a guitar shaped casket, wearing his grandfather’s shoes
On the day of his death, a letter arrived from mental health services at the family home, inviting him to an assessment.
‘I just felt anger, that it was too little too late, he’s been having assessments since he was 13 years old,’ she said.
‘We don’t get the coroners report back for 10 weeks but I suspect he accidentally took too many pain killers. All I can think is this could have been prevented – if it’s possible to feel more pain I do because I know he didn’t need to die.’
Anna-Maria marked her 50th birthday on Friday, a week after her son’s death, by opening her cards and presents beside him, as he lay in a guitar shaped casket, wearing his beloved grandfather’s shoes.
She also wears a gold locket containing his hair next to her heart, bought by his Aunty Lindsay, after he died. A Mother’s Day card which says; ‘I love you forever’, also sits untouched on the mantlepiece.
She said: ‘Jay was born days before his loving grandmother’s 50th birthday and he died days before mine.
‘We were all looking forward to flying to New York as a family to mark my birthday and his sister Harley’s 21st birthday, which is later this week, but instead I went to my son’s funeral parlour to open my cards and presents so we could all be together.
‘My brother Carl, his wife Jane and their children Lauren and Joe nominated a star in his name and gave me the certificate for my birthday – I know he would have loved that.
‘He was a diamond – and we’ve chosen the Pink Floyd song Shine On you Crazy Diamond for his service of celebration – he wasn’t a conformist, he was special, he was all about peace and love. All I can say is he will be shining down on us, and I want people to remember the good times, before his illness.’
A celebration of Jay Lennon Kerrigan Gascoigne’s life will be held this Wednesday, the same day of the week he was born, followed by a private crematorium service for family and close friends.
‘I can’t bring back my son, but I hope by speaking out, that something can be done to help all the other young people who fall through the cracks, who fight and beg and become just a number,’ she said. ‘Like my Jay, they deserve more than that.’
A donation to the mental health charity MIND is being made on behalf of Anna-Maria for this interview. Donate at www.mind.org.uk