Woman’s suicide in hostel was not foreseen – inquest

Asylum seeker staying in Cork centre left Korea because of family difficulties, inquest told

No one could have foreseen that a 36-year-old asylum seeker was going to take her own life on the day she died in her hostel accommodation, an inquest has found.

Coroner for Cork City Philip Comyn said the evidence about the death of the Korean woman did not suggest that she was planning to end her life at the Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre after returning from a visit to her GP on the morning of August 23rd last.

A manager at the Kinsale Road facility, Denise Wallace, said the woman mostly kept to herself at the hostel but in the days leading up to her death she started talking to her a lot more, asking her for help for a pain in her neck and Ms Wallace gave her heat patches.

A member of the HSE mental health team had met the woman four days before her death but she told her to leave as she didn’t want to talk about her mental health.


Mental condition

“What I picked up was that she stopped taking her tablets for her mental condition. She said she didn’t want to take them,” said Ms Wallace.

“I thought she was doing well. She was smiling and talking a lot more than she used to and she seemed to be okay, bar the neck pain.”

Eugene Banks of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) said the woman arrived in Ireland from Korea via Abu Dhabi in May 2015 and applied for asylum and spent three months at the RIA accommodation centre in Balseskin in Dublin where she would have been medically assessed.

She moved from Balseskin with her child to a mother and family centre in Killarney in September 2015 but two weeks later moved to the Kinsale Road accommodation centre because it meant that she was nearer to the more acute medical services she required.

In a report the woman's GP, Dr Shirley Cotter, said the woman had told her she left Korea because of family difficulties and that her mother had psychiatric problems and her sister suffered from depression, and she noted that the woman began developing paranoid ideation.

Extended his sympathies

In January 2016, she was admitted on a voluntary basis to the psychiatric unit at Cork University Hospital and she was prescribed medication by a psychiatrist but she was not compliant in taking the medication as she said she was not psychiatrically ill and she did not express any suicidal thoughts, said Dr Cotter.

The coroner returned a verdict of death by suicide and extended his sympathies to the woman’s family in Korea and to the staff at the Kinsale Road accommodation centre who dealt with her on a daily, saying that “it can’t have been easy for them to deal with a tragedy like this”.

* Anyone affected by suicide can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Aware on 1800 804848 or the ISPCC Childline on 1800 666666.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times