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Two patients leave psychiatric unit and take their own lives within days

It is believed that in both cases, the people signed themselves out of hospital.
Jun 4th 2014, 6:15 AM 23,607 52

THE HSE HAS declined to comment on two cases in a regional psychiatric unit that saw patients leave days before taking their own lives.

The two cases occurred within the last two months at a regional psychiatric ward in the west of the country.

In one case, a man took his own life within 24 hours of leaving the unit and in another a 25-year-old woman died by suicide within two days of leaving the same unit.

Sources indicate that both people had a history of mental health issues.

A number of people who work in the mental health sector told TheJournal.ie that there is strong anecdotal evidence that the cases are being repeated across the country, but others suggest that the law makes it difficult for hospitals.

“Unless a person is obviously a danger to themselves or others, we can’t hold them,” said one hospital worker who didn’t wish to be named.

“That puts us in a big bind, because we can’t hold adults against their will forever.”

Concern was raised by families in similar situations. Conor McNally, whose cousin Glen took his own life shortly after leaving a Dublin hospital.

In Galway, Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney has raised concerns about the safety of patients in University Hospital Galway, after a patient died while in care.

In the cases in the west, both people checked themselves out.

One source from the mental health area says that they have sympathy for hospitals.

The hospitals are under huge pressure and patients can’t be held onto, but something has to be done.

The HSE says that it cannot comment on individual cases. The executive also declined to comment on the larger scale issue of provision of services.

Helplines:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634

  • Console 1800 201 890

  • Aware 1890 303 302

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

Read: Booklet launched to combat “suicide crisis” and increase in rural isolation

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Paul Hosford

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