Personal health issues caused Dereham man’s depression, inquest hears — (EDP 24)

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First Published on Antidepaware

EDP 24

Dominic Bareham

Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:57 PM

A Norfolk psychiatric hospital failed to consult the parents of a depressed 49-year-old man before releasing him back into their care, an inquest heard.

Jonathan Askham, of William Cowper Close, Dereham took his own life after being released by Hellesdon Hospital in June, but the inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard no consultation took place prior to him returning home.

Mr Askham had struggled to come to terms with personal health problems  and had regularly spoken of taking his own life.

Paul Smith, a charge nurse with the crisis team at Hellesdon Hospital, spoke of how Mr Askham had been “expressing suicidal thoughts, but with no concrete plans to end his life”.

He said the hospital’s crisis team continually assessed him and had deemed him suitable to be cared for at home.

At one point, his medication was changed after he talked about killing himself, but the situation took a turn for the worse at the beginning of June when Mr Askham’s  mother Jennifer phoned the hospital reporting concerns about her son and he was taken into hospital.

However, while at Hellesdon, he said he did not want to stay as a patient. He was diagnosed as suffering a grief reaction due to his physical health problems and was identified as needing a considerable amount of support after being discharged from hospital, which he received from the hospital’s crisis team.

Dr Joanna Woodger, a consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, said Mr Askham had asked to be released from the hospital, feeling it would not be suitable for him to stay there.

She added she could not compel Mr Askham to stay because his disorder was not “sectionable”, adding that he did not like being in the hospital environment because of the amount of noise.

She said: “For people with psychological distress, it is better to be in the family environment than a hospital ward. It is a very difficult place to be.”

John Devenney, acting service manager with Central Norfolk Acute Services, said a report into Mr Askham’s death identified the lack of consultation with his parents as being missing from procedures.

He added a mental health practitioner had been given a new post to liaise with families prior to releasing mental health patients into their care.

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, said she did not think the absence of family liaison would have affected the outcome as Mr Askham continued to receive support from the crisis team.

She said: “I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Askham had intended to take his own life.”

She recorded a verdict that Mr Askham had taken his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.