A depressed student who was found hanged in her bedroom turned to social workers for help but was dismissed as "a f***ing waste of space" and an "attention seeker".
Hannah Groves, a 20-year-old undergraduate at Southampton University, desperately sought help from the NHS, warning doctors she wanted to kill herself. For nine days, Hannah repeatedly requested to be admitted into a specialist mental health unit but was ignored.
On October 22 last year, the French student strangled herself.
Now, Hannah's mother Mandy Park is taking legal action against the Southern Health NHS Trust, after a coroner recorded she was not given the help she was entitled to.
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"It was like she was possessed," Park said. "But we just couldn’t get the help that she needed and she wanted.The image of finding my daughter will haunt me for ever and I can no longer sleep at night without heavy medication."
The cruel comments were made by a social worker to a police officer, who had telephoned the mental health team and expressed concerns over Hannah's welfare. The officer was told: "Yeah, I know her, she is an f***ing waste of space, she’s an attention seeker," according to the Daily Echo.
During the week before her death, Hannah attended A&E after two suicide attempts in the space of three days and was assessed by the NHS. Despite a trainee doctor flagging up Hannah's suicidal state of mind, the student was deemed fine to return home.
Following an inquest earlier this month, coroner Keith Wiseman said: "There was at all stages a failure to appreciate the extent of the risk that Hannah was at in the community.
"It is surely self-evident that by the end of the week it was unsafe for both Hannah and her family for her to be at home," the Sunday Times reported Wiseman saying. "One only has to pause for a moment to visualise Hannah’s mother and teenage brother being forced to leave the house for their own safety in the early hours of the morning and for the police to have to be called, to realise that by then a wholly impossible stage had been reached and that for however modest a period of time Hannah required hospital admission and care.
The trust has admitted liability but denies Hannah should have been hospitalised. "We must always strive to support people in their own homes and be very cautious about admitting people to psychiatric hospitals unless it is absolutely necessary,” a spokesperson for the trust said. “In this case we deeply regret the failure to provide the right level of intensive community support which would have avoided any need for hospital admission."
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
Students Against Depression, a website by students, for students.
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
Mental Wealth UK To join the community or launch a student group contact the charity on firstname.lastname@example.org