‘Today Milly’s voice was heard’: Mother of girl (11) who died by suicide took case to highlight ‘woefully inadequate’ mental health services

Mother of Milly Tuomey settles High Court case over her daughter’s care

The mother of an 11-year-old girl who died by suicide has spoken in the High Court about how her daughter had struggled and they sought help in the weeks before her death.

Weeks before taking her life, Milly Tuomey posted on Instagram the date she intended to die, and her parents sought help. However, her mother, Fiona Tuomey, told a judge the mental health services in this state are “woefully inadequate”.

“We want her voice to be heard now. Her voice was not heard during the eight weeks she struggled. We can’t bring our child back but by bringing this case for her it will be a small justice for Milly and it will bring some change to the services provided,” she said.

Ms Tuomey was speaking in court as her family settled for €65,000 a High Court action over Milly’s death in January 2016, eight weeks after the family first sought help for her mental health problems.


During that time a suicide diary was found and there was an urgent referral in December 2015 to mental health services, but an appointment was given for January 5th, 2016, a day after Milly died.

The family’s senior counsel, Pearse Sreenan, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, told the High Court it was their case that there was a “systemic-wide series of errors” by all involved in Milly’s care between November 2015 and January 2016.

Eight weeks after the family first sought help by bringing Milly to a doctor, she was found by her sister Daisy and taken to hospital where she died later, he said. He said experts on their side were highly critical of the way the system let down Milly and the Tuomey family.

He said the litigation was not about monetary compensation but to highlight the mental health system. He said the Health Service Executive (HSE) had the key to unlocking the system. The Tuomeys brought the case to expose the lack of reaction in Milly’s case and the tragedy that happened, he said.

Ms Tuomey, of Cypress Downs, Templeogue, Dublin, had on behalf of her family brought an action against the HSE, a doctor, an art therapist, private clinic An Cuan Centre for Psychological Services, trading as An Cuan, and with registered offices at Rathgar Avenue, Dublin, and St John of God Community Services Company Ltd, trading as Lucena Clinic Services with registered offices at Stillorgan, Dublin.

In the proceedings, it was claimed that Milly took her life allegedly not having been properly or adequately referred, treated or assessed. The HSE and St John of God Community Services admitted they failed to provide treatment to Milly within an acceptable timeframe but it was denied that the girl’s death was caused by negligence on their part.

The doctor denied all claims.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told a settlement had been reached after mediation and an order could be made against the HSE, the doctor and St John of God Community Services. Counsel asked for judgment against An Cuan Centre for Psychological Services as no appearance had been entered by it.

In an apology read to the court, the management of St John of God Community Services apologised for the deficits in care provided to Milly.

“She was not provided with treatment within an acceptable timeframe and we appreciate this gave rise to a missed opportunity in respect of her care.”

It added: “We acknowledge the profound and devastating impact that Milly’s death has had on you all.”

The letter, which was signed by CEO Clare Dempsey, also stated that a waiting list initiative was introduced following Milly’s death to streamline assessments and treatment paths to reduce waiting lists.

It also stated that Lucena CAMHS has now implemented its clinical governance group and the service is now linked with Health Link and the CAMHS Hub has been established as part of a national clinical programme which reviews urgent referrals. Response time to urgent referrals is within 72 hours, it said.

Ms Tuomey told the court Milly “was deeply loved not just by her parents and her sister Daisy but her grandparents cousins and all her family and she had many friends, but that did not protect her from going through a mental health crisis”.

She added: “Milly has left an enormous void in our lives.”

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey said this was a heartbreaking case and he sympathized with the Tuomey family.

Outside court, Ms Tuomey, with her husband Tim and daughter Daisy, said it had been seven difficult years but “today Milly’s voice was heard”.

“Unfortunately in the seven years since Milly died by suicide many have died by suicide. I would like to see real change. It is too late for our child but, hopefully, it will not be too late for other children,” she said.

She added: “Mental health in this country has been undervalued and it needs to be addressed by the Minister for Health.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116123, or email jo@samaritans.org