The parents of a
young woman who killed herself while a voluntary patient in a mental
hospital have criticised the system for failing to ensure people who
are suicidal are kept from self harm.
Chris and Helen Reynolds said there were clear signs that their
daughter, Belinda, wanted to take her own life. She had made a suicide
attempt days before she succeeded.
Aylesbury coroner's court returned an open verdict on her death on
Monday, criticising the hospital for neglect.
Mind, the mental health charity, said that suicidal patients were
often not properly supervised in hospital. A spokeswoman said:
"We need serious improvements to the supervision of hospital
patients deemed to be at risk."
Latest performance indicators for mental hospitals, released on
Friday, show there was an increase of 1% in suicide rates in 2001,
after a drop in the previous two years.
Mr Reynolds said there had been clear signs his daughter was at
risk while staying at the Tindal Centre, in Aylesbury. "She died
on April 14. On the ninth it was recorded that her situation was
deteriorating." On April 12 Ms Reynolds was found with shoelaces
round her neck; she later handed them in. She spent the 14th, her 35th
birthday, with visitors, in the evening having a meal with friends. At
8.54pm she asked for her shoelaces and scissors, which she said were
for cutting her hair.
She was given the laces and a penknife that had a scissor
attachment. She went to the lavatory. Ten minutes later her friends
called the staff, but she had hanged herself with the laces from the
Keith Nieland, the chief executive of Buckinghamshire mental health
NHS trust, said he did not consider that the hospital was to blame.