Troubled train track suicide man 'not listened to'— (East Lindsey Target)

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East Lindsey Target

Posted: August 05, 2013

 THE family of a man who took his own life believe he was let down by health professionals who could have helped him better manage his mental health.

Steven John Cooper, 51, from Chapel St Leonards, died after being struck by a train at the Eastville level crossing on October 9 last year. He died from multiple injuries.

At his inquest, it was said that Mr Cooper had placed himself in the path of an approaching train.

Assistant Deputy Coroner Paul Smith said the background leading to this action showed Mr Cooper was troubled for several years by his mental health, which had worsened over the last two years.

Mr Cooper had suffered from anxiety relating to obsessive compulsive acts such as regimes in personal hygiene and order, as well as suffering from insomnia.

He disagreed with his OCD diagnosis and believed there was something else causing his problems.

He was later assessed as being on the autism spectrum and was diagnosed with Asperger’s.

In written evidence, his wife Nicola said that thoughts of suicide had become a daily obsession for her husband.

On the day he died, Mr Cooper’s wife said he had been agitated at home and had talked of suicide. He went out and she expected him to return home.

She said: “I do not feel he had the support from professionals to deal with his thoughts and beliefs. I am sure if someone had listened to Steven, this tragic event would have been avoided.”

Evidence given at his inquest suggested Mr Cooper believed treatment and medications options were not working for him and he continued to resist treatment.

Health professionals including his GP and psychologist said there was no immediate suicidal ideation by Mr Cooper to take his own life and he seemed able to make decisions about his own care and treatment.

He told one health professional that despite having thoughts, he would never do it due to his wife and daughter.

Three months prior to taking his own life, Mr Cooper was detained by police at Eastville Level Crossing under the Mental Health Act.

He was assessed by Dr Steven Hopkins of G4S medical services who had previously worked as a GP and on a 25-bed psychology wing at Lincoln Prison working with inmates.

The inquest heard that this was Dr Hopkins’ first assessment attending as a police surgeon and his employment had not officially started.

He said: “I was working with colleagues, showing me the ropes. They were desperate for a doctor and I said I would help.”

In Dr Hopkins’ professional view, Mr Cooper did not need to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

He said: “He was lucid, fully aware of his surroundings. He denied that he was going to commit suicide quite vehemently.

“He did not strike me as an immediate risk and I thought he could be managed in the community. He did not harm himself for a further three months.”

He told the inquest that he contacted Mr Cooper’s GP and informed her of the circumstances relating to the arrest and his department had contacted the community health trust.

The health professionals stated at the inquest that they had not received this information.

Assistant deputy coroner, Paul Smith, said: “It seems to me Mr Cooper was troubled for many years by worsening mental health issues – he was a man in torment.

“It is clear to me he was an educated man with some insight into his own condition, which perhaps maybe made his condition worse rather than better.

“I am aware of the concerns expressed about the quality of care but it is accepted that such concerns do not reach the required threshold to find any reason of neglect. It may be the family have concerns but that could be for another court on another day.

“I am satisfied that his death arose as a deliberate act by Mr Cooper to intend to bring about his own death.”

Mr Smith recorded a verdict that Mr Cooper took his own life.