Grieving family wants answers following hospital suicide
Published 11/02/2016 | 00:00
THE family of a young Wexford man who tragically took his own life while he was on 'suicide watch' in a hospital's psychiatric unit are demanding answers from the HSE about what happened to him.
'They offered us condolences, but no answers,' said Paul Fenlon, whose brother Nicky died by suicide at Waterford Regional Hospital four days after being admitted suffering from psychosis and depression.
'We need answers,' said Paul.
'We need to know how this happened. How can this happen in one of the best mental health units in Ireland,' said Paul, who lived in the same block of flats as Nicky in Upper George Street and cared and looked after him.
'We brought him somewhere we thought he was safe, but it wasn't.'
Nicky, aged 32, had been suffering from psychiatric illness for several years and was receiving injections twice a week to control his psychosis as well as medication to help him sleep.
He was being treated at Summerhill mental health centre, in Wexford, but on Monday, January 25, Paul was told his brother needed to be transferred to Waterford.
'There was no transport available, so myself, my sister and her boyfriend took him to Ardkeen at around 6.20 p.m. We left him there and on Wednesday I went back to visit him. He was still unwell and paranoid.'
Paul called the hospital later that day to express concerns about Nicky's welfare and his brother was subsequently put on suicide watch.
However, at 1.30 a.m. on Friday morning he was found dead in his bed after taking his own life. His mobile phone was still in the pocket of a jacket he had with him.
Paul said he was then contacted by the hospital which offered condolences. A doctor at the hospital told their father Nick Senior that it was the first such tragedy in 12 years at the hospital.
'Something went terribly wrong at the hospital,' said Paul.
'There have been lots of cuts to mental services in Wexford over the past few years and I don't know if this was a factor,' he said.
'But, we the family have been let down by the system and we want to know why,' he said, 'the whole family is totally devastated.'
Paul said he had been told an inquiry was being held, but had no details.
The HSE said an internal review was being carried out.
Asked for a comment, the HSE said it 'can confirm that a patient of the Department of Psychiatry acute unit, located on the grounds of University Hospital Waterford, has died'.
'The HSE is liaising with the patient's family, the Mental Health Commission and - as per HSE protocol - is carrying out its own internal review of the incident which occurred last week,' said a spokesperson.
'The HSE extends its deepest sympathy to the patient's family and continues to offer any support necessary.'