Family's anguish over dad's death

Terry Thomas (far right) with his daughter Zoe Butt, son-in-law Neil and wife Jane

Terry Thomas (far right) with his daughter Zoe Butt, son-in-law Neil and wife Jane

First published in News by

A SUICIDAL dad killed himself by jumping from a road bridge the day after he was turned away from a Basingstoke mental health unit.

Grieving widow Jane Thomas told an inquest how her family felt let down by the way her distressed husband Terry was treated by staff at the mental health unit at Parklands Hospital.

Mr Thomas, a grandfather who lived at Kenilworth Road, Winklebury, in Basingstoke, was found dead on the road beneath a railway bridge on the Ringway West A340 on April 1.

At the inquest into the 54-year-old’s death, his wife told how Mr Thomas had been turned away from Parklands the day before, despite a failed suicide attempt.

Mrs Thomas said: “The day before Terry died, he woke up and was very agitated, so my daughter and myself took him into town. That sometimes helped take his mind off things.

“He went missing and was found on a rooftop car park. Security staff stopped him from jumping off.”

My daughter and I then took him to Parklands and one of the first things we asked the doctors was 'can he stay?' But they said it was not appropriate."

Mr Thomas' daughter, Zoe Butt, a care worker from Sherfield-on-Loddon, said: "The doctors said he would be better off at home. But they never even asked him if he felt suicidal or asked us if we had concerns.

"All they told him was to write in his diary and to try and slow his thought process down. It was bizarre. They kept looking at their watches and after 55 minutes they left. He (her dad) turned to me and he said 'what choice do I have?'"

North East Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley read witness statements from a motorist who saw Mr Thomas jump from the bridge at about 12.45pm. He also read a note found in a fleece jacket on the bridge, which had been written by Mr Thomas to his family.

In the note, Mr Thomas, who had been reported missing by his wife on April 1, said: "Jane and everyone, I will help you all from the spirit world.

"I cannot see me ever learning or knowing how to cope with life. I regret and wish most of all that this act didn't hurt you."

Dr Paul Warren, associate medical director of the Crisis Resolution Team at Parklands Hospital, told the inquest: "The Crisis team were very shocked at Mr Thomas' death, and if it (his condition) had been that apparent, we probably would've handled it differently.

"The team assessing him did not think he was expressing suicidal ideas. The hospital is a distressing place and it was felt he could be managed better at home."

Recording a verdict of suicide at the Basingstoke inquest, Mr Bradley said: "Whether the Crisis team made the right decision not to take Terry in is difficult to say.

"Effectively, it is imprisonment and the law states we need to be quite certain about it. If we are in any doubt, then we cannot make that decision.

"I'm now able to say it was not a safe decision to take, but I wasn't there at the time and I'm not faced with that decision so I cannot be critical of the mental health services."

Mrs Thomas has requested to speak with the consultant who assessed her husband the day before his death, and has vowed to lodge an official complaint.

After the inquest, she said: "I'm not happy with what has come out. I just want to know why my husband wasn't kept in hospital. Hopefully, things will change so that something like this doesn't happen again."

Following her husband's death in April, The Gazette reported on the touching tributes that were paid by his wife and daughter to Mr Thomas, who had been diagnosed with depression 30 years ago.

Mrs Thomas said: "He loved people so much and was a very affectionate man. He was always the life and soul of the party and just wanted to make sure everyone else was happy. He bore no grudges and absolutely doted on his daughter and granddaughter.

"He was this really happy character. However, he was also quite troubled, but he didn't show that to people. Since his death, people have sent me so many messages. It's been unbelievable."

Comments (2)

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9:43am Fri 3 Jul 09

philipbranigan says...

For a patient to be turned away from a psychiatric unit after a 'failed' suicide attempt is beyond belief.The fact that Mr Thomas then went on to succeed in taking his own life highlights how inadequate the assessment service is at Parklands hospital.My sincere and deepest sympathies go out to Mr Thomas' family.
For a patient to be turned away from a psychiatric unit after a 'failed' suicide attempt is beyond belief.The fact that Mr Thomas then went on to succeed in taking his own life highlights how inadequate the assessment service is at Parklands hospital.My sincere and deepest sympathies go out to Mr Thomas' family. philipbranigan
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Fri 3 Jul 09

Kirstiee says...

if they never turned you away then you might still be here now. nan and granmar and everyone misses you so much we all do :( wish you could come back everyone loves you for the amazing man you was miss you more everyday love you always uncle terry
if they never turned you away then you might still be here now. nan and granmar and everyone misses you so much we all do :( wish you could come back everyone loves you for the amazing man you was miss you more everyday love you always uncle terry Kirstiee
  • Score: 0

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