Family settles case against HSE over son’s suicide for €200,000

Court told Alec Rea from Carndonagh was a promising musician who fell into deep depression

The family of a musician who died by suicide has secured a €200,000 settlement of their High Court nervous shock action against the HSE over his death.

At the time of his death, Alec Rea (24), from Carndonagh, Co Donegal, was a promising young musician who had the prospect of a record deal with an American producer on the horizon, his parents said.

Approving the settlement, which included the statutory solatium mental distress payment of €35,000, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a very tragic case and he offered his sincere sympathy to the family. The settlement was made without an admission of liability.

In a statement issued through their solicitors, Callan Tansey Solicitors, the family described Alec as an exceptionally talented musician.


They wanted the message to go out that those with mental health difficulties should urgently get the help and support they need, that families should be listened to and safeguards put in place to ensure adequate follow-up.

Sean Rea and Loren Rea, of Priestown, Carndonagh, sued the HSE for nervous shock over Alec’s death on February 3rd, 2016.

It was claimed he had in October 2015 returned from a music festival where a US record producer had found his material to be impressive and he was in great spirits.

Deep depression

It was claimed, on return to normal life, he then went into a deep depression and lost all interest in music.

Alec had first presented with symptoms of depression in 2008 when he was 16 and, in December 2015, was reviewed and medication was prescribed for him.

It was claimed he was again reviewed on January 5th, 2016 and admitted to the mental health unit of Letterkenny General Hospital for a full psychiatric assessment and treatment.

A medic reviewed his prescription and referred him to a social worker at the mental health services team with a view to supporting him at home and engaging him in recreational and training opportunities.

On January 22nd 2016, his mother, concerned about him, phoned the mental health services. He was seen by a social worker on January 29th.

It was claimed his mother had, from January 26th, contacted Buncrana Mental Health Services on a daily basis and reiterated the family’s grave concern in relation to Alec if he was not assessed and treated soon.

It was claimed an appointment was offered for February 2nd but was cancelled by phone call that morning and the family were told they would be contacted with a new appointment date.

Following the cancellation, it was claimed Alec spent the rest of the day in his bedroom alone and audibly upset. The next day, he died by suicide.

It was claimed a social worker had spoken to a doctor on the mental health services team that same day and a new appointment for February 9th was issued.

It was claimed there was failure to have regard to the phonecalls by Alec’s mother and to provide a reasonable mental health service to Mr Rea. The parents claimed they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Alec’s death.