Teen who took own life ‘failed by mental health services’

Inquest hears Dan Hogan (17) was ‘traumatised’ by 26 day stay in inpatient unit

Dan Hogan: found dead on July 8th, 2014.

Dan Hogan: found dead on July 8th, 2014.

 

A teenager who told his mother the mental health service was failing him took his own life three weeks later.

Dan Hogan (17) from Donnybrook, Dublin 4, was described as bright, kind and sporty teenager who was passionate about rugby. He was found dead on July 8th, 2014.

He described in his diary how he’d felt “traumatised” by his 26 day stay at St Joseph’s Adolescent Inpatient Unit in Fairview as an involuntary patient weeks before his death.

In extracts read out by his mother Elaine Clear at an inquest into his death, Dan wrote that he had desperately wanted to go home.

“I want things to be back to normal and just be with my family. I can’t do this much more, it’s exhausting, so exhausting. I’m emotionally wrecked, tired. I feel like an elastic band that has been stretched so far,” he said.

After his discharge, he had nightmares about the hospital, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

“Hospital was torture and traumatising and was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting, like nothing I have experienced before. I felt alone and that no one close to me understood what I was going through,” he wrote in his diary.

Ms Clear said her son hated taking the anti-anxiety Lorazepam as it “dulled his brain”.

“Dan told me later that if this was the treatment for his illness, then he was ‘fucked’. He took his life three weeks later. All we are asking is that mental health services treat young people in Dan’s situation with more enlightened consideration,” she said.

Ms Clear asked that family members be allowed in the unit to offer support during the admission process. She said there was an increased risk of suicide on discharge from a psychiatric hospital that parents should be made aware of.

“At least allow their parents remain with them overnight so they are not totally isolated from their home environment and support system,” she said.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Michelle Harley said staff at St Joseph’s had been “extremely worried” about the teenager. She said key moments of patient vulnerability occurred during admission and in the days and weeks after discharge.

The jury returned a verdict of death by suicide and recommended that an adult family member be permitted to stay with the patient in a psychiatric unit if professionals deem it helpful during the admission process and facilities are available.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell extended his sympathies to the family on their loss.

* If you, or someone you know, needs someone to talk to, contact Samaritans on 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org; www.yourmentalhealth.ie has a directory of mental health services.