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Patient took own life on day release from hospital

By Crawley News  |  Posted: July 19, 2013

QUESTIONS ASKED: Julie O'Hare took her own life while on day release from Langley Green Hospital reks20121608b

THE family of a patient at Langley Green Hospital who died while on day release from the mental health centre believe more could have been done to save her life.

The inquest into the death of Julie O'Hare concluded at Woking Coroner's Court on Monday.

Miss O'Hare was admitted to the mental health unit, in Martyrs Avenue, three times in January and February 2012 and took her own life on March 11, having returned to her Redhill home while on day release.

The inquest heard Miss O'Hare received years of support after being diagnosed with a personality disorder and body dismorphia – an anxiety disorder – and had made attempts on her own life before.

However, on these occasions Miss O'Hare would either be saved or call for help.

Her father, Seamus O'Hare, said his daughter had looked her "best in years" before her first admission in January, yet when he visited her at the unit on March 5 she was unrecognisable.

He said: "It was a shock to see her in hospital because she looked like a skeleton. I hardly knew her.

"At Christmas she looked the best she had in years. She was at a better weight, well dressed, looking pretty with her hair and nails done.

"Then just months later it was all change and a worry to me. I was anxious for her."

Mr O'Hare believes his daughter was crying out for help by going to the hospital.

He said: "As her dad I was questioning what could I do to make things better. Julie would have had to be desperate to agree to go to hospital.

"It was her cry for help to say she was very unwell."

The inquest heard the family had asked for more communication from the hospital on Miss O'Hare's care and the medication she was on but that she had not given permission for information to be shared.

Miss O'Hare final admission to the hospital was on February 28.

Her sister, Nicola Casse, said: "Over the years things were getting progressively worse for Julie. I spoke to Julie via text while she was in hospital and she seemed really distressed about an argument with my mum.

"Her texts were negative but I know they sorted things out."

On the day Miss O'Hare died, the alarm was raised after she did not return to the hospital at the agreed time.

A statement from Ian Whitburn, Miss O'Hare's mother's partner, was read out in court.

It said Miss O'Hare and her mother had resolved a disagreement.

The statement continued: "I have known Julie since she was nine years old.

"Julie had a history of mental health problems but I don't think she intended to take her own life. She would have expected someone to come to her aid like they had on the many occasions in the past."

The inquest heard on the day before her death the 33-year-old had to be taken to Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre for stitches after cutting her arm with a broken mirror.

The family dispute whether Miss O'Hare would have been of sound enough mind following this incident to then be allowed to return home, even though she had reassured hospital staff she would not hurt herself.

At the end of the three-day hearing, assistant deputy coroner Belinda Cheney gave a verdict that Miss O'Hare took her own life but that it was impossible to ascertain her intention.

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