Coroner hits out at mental health trust at St Leonards teenager's inquest

A coroner has criticised mental health bosses for failing to do more to try and and prevent the tragic death of a teenager who took his own life.

Alan Craze said it was 'sad' that Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services, had 'missed an opportunity' to help 19-year-old Ty Williams, who hanged himself in March.

An inquest into his death was held on Wednesday.

The teenager, of Gensing Road, St Leonards, was found by his mother Sarah on March 16 in his flat.

The inquest heard that Ty had cut his right wrist on February 22 because of his depression and gave up waiting to be seen by a psychiatrist at the Conquest Hospital.

His mum, of Alfred Street, St Leonards, said: "Ty waited for more than three hours but was never seen.

"He was tired and just wanted to go home.

"I asked Ty to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act because I was terrified he would kill himself. But nothing was done."

Dr Nicholas MacCarthy, Ty's GP from Carisbrooke Surgery, said the teenager, who worked at DVS in the Ponswood Industrial Estate, was first seen by him on February 12.

He said: "Ty's mother became very concerned about his low mood in recent weeks. He had suicidal thoughts.

"We were unable to identify any specific cause of his symptoms and I prescribed him anti-depressants."

Ty's mum said she took her son back to see Dr MacCarthy on February 26 who was surprised the local mental health team had not contacted his patient after referring him to them a few days earlier.

She said: "The doctor rang them while we were at the surgery, saying it was urgent something needed to be done.

"The next day the mental health team rang Ty and did a telephone assessment on him.

"We were very close and I saw him almost every day. We were always on the phone.

"I got the inkling that something was wrong with him just after the New Year. After talking to him he said he was feeling down.

"He needed structure and had too much time over Christmas being off work.

"It got to the point when he would not go out and see his friends nor go to work."

Kalpana Dolikar, team manager for the Mental Health in Primary Care Team, said Ty had talked about returning to work during his telephone assessment and seemed better.

She said: "Ty could not identify any triggers for his current mood. He said he was going back to work, had family support, and would not harm himself again."

Ms Dolikar said a patient was normally seen by a mental health adviser within two weeks after being referred by their GP.

Mr Craze said: "This young man should have been seen face-to-face and given a full psychiatric assessment. I am concerned that it takes two weeks until a mental health adviser is allocated.

"Clearly this was a vulnerable young man."

He added he would be writing to Lisa Rodrigues, the trust's chief executive, to express his concerns.

Ms Dolikar said there had been some improvement in the service since Ty's death.

She said: "Every day we have to prioritise the urgency of cases of people coming into our services, sometimes with very limited information.

"Sometimes some cases are not as urgent as first thought. It is down to resources.

"We do have ongoing contact with young people's services, promoting good mental health, by going to schools and colleges advising how people can look after themselves.

"We have also recently launched workshops to help people with anxiety and depression. There is also a current campaign being held with the aim of destigmatising mental health issues."

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of Ty's mind was disturbed.

After the inquest Ty's mum said: "The trust has deprived me of my son. He should have been seen face-to-face within hours after cutting his wrist.

"You cannot keep blaming everything on a lack of resources.

"People suffering from depression tend to put up a front on the phone rather than face-to-face."