Family of man who died in mental health unit receives apology

Karl Collins died by suicide two days after being admitted to St Columba’s Hospital

The HSE and the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service apologised and acknowledged that the death of Karl Collins on his family ‘was devastating and has had a profound and lasting effect’.

The HSE and the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service apologised and acknowledged that the death of Karl Collins on his family ‘was devastating and has had a profound and lasting effect’.

 

The HSE and the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service have apologised in the High Court to the family of a 30-year old man who took his own life in a mental health unit.

The apology was read in court as the family of Karl Collins settled a legal action over his death for €275,000.

Mr Collins died by suicide two days after being admitted voluntarily to St Columba’s Hospital mental health unit, Farranacardy, Sligo in 2017.

An outdoor activity instructor from Co Dublin, Mr Collins had been living in Tullaghan, Co Leitrim prior to his death on April 3rd 2017.

Maura McNally SC, for the family, said they were left bereft after Karl’s death and the care provided to them after the suicide was “wanting.”

In the apology, Sligo Leitrim mental health service and the HSE extended a “sincere apology” to the family in respect to the death of Karl.

“We want to convey our profound regret at the circumstances of his untimely and tragic death which occurred on April 3rd 2017 when he was an inpatient in St Columba’s admission unit.”

The apology acknowledged the experience for the family, especially his mother Irene Collins and his siblings, “was devastating and has had a profound and lasting effect.”

‘Failed to communicate’

“We are sorry that prior to and in the aftermath of Karl’s death we failed to communicate in a satisfactory way with you or offer you satisfactory support. We are sorry we did not accompany Karl or his family members to the emergency department of Sligo University Hospital.”

It said it wished to assure the family the service has made great efforts to ensure that recommendations identified by the investigation into Karl’s death were implemented.

“Most importantly on October 20th, 2020 we closed St Columba’s Hospital and our inpatient service moved to the new admission unit in Sligo University Hospital,” it said.

The letter concluded: “ We would like you to know that the staff of the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service were deeply saddened and shocked by Karl’s death and we would once again like to offer our heartfelt condolences on your loss.”

Irene Collins, Sutton, Co Dublin, her daughters Aisling (49) Roslyn (47); Jennifer (43) and Maria (40), and her son John (45). had sued the HSE over the death of Karl.

He presented to St Columba’s Hospital unit on April 1st, 2017 and requested admission due to worsening symptoms. It is claimed he had a history of depression and was previously involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility in 2011 following a suicide attempt.

It was claimed there was failure to attach any or any appropriate weight to the level of agitation he displayed and failure to treat it aggressively with medication.

It was further claimed there was failure to have any, or any adequate, regard to his presenting symptoms, including his statement in relation to suicidal intent and his admission to having taken an overdose in his desperation to get some sleep which, he reported, led him to want to end his life.

It was claimed there was failure to consider as a possibility that Mr Collins had a severe depressive illness and he was diagnosed as suffering mixed anxiety and depression. It was also claimed there was failure to request him to remain on the ward for observation and safety.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his deepest sympathy to the family on ” a profoundly sad and tragic case.’