Social Worker Called Suicidal Student 'An Effing Waste Of Space' - Three Hours Before She Killed Herself

17/09/2013 08:33 | Updated 22 May 2015

A social worker has been suspended after dismissing a suicidal student as 'an effing waste of space' and 'an attention seeker' – three hours before she killed herself.

Hannah Groves, 20, took her own life after she spent nine days asking to be admitted to a specialist unit.

Her mother Mandy Park, 43, said: "If she had been admitted for treatment I believe Hannah would still be alive.

"I feel completely and utterly failed by the lack of help and care. She was talked about in such a vile, horrific and derogatory way by certain people.

"It was like being caught up in a horror film."

At the inquest into Hannah's death, Accident and Emergency doctors, police and paramedics all concluded she needed help.

But the specialist mental health team diagnosed her as simply having 'attention-seeking behaviour'.

In a narrative verdict, Southampton 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."

Hannah was studying French at the university of Southampton when she began suffering mental illness for the first time.

On an October morning last year – after she had spent nine days repeatedly asking for treatment in the city's Antelope House mental health unit – she was being assessed at a police station when a policeman phoned the mental health team.

It was then that a social worker told the officer: "Yeah, I know her, she is an effing waste of space, she's an attention seeker."

Within three hours Hannah was dead after strangling herself with scarves and belts.

Her mum said: "It was like she was possessed 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."

Coroner Mr Wiseman said in his verdict earlier this month: "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.

"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."

Hannah's mother said she was now taking legal action against the Southern Health NHS Trust. The social worker has been suspended while the case is investigated.

A spokesman for the Trust rejected her family's and the coroner's claims that she should have been admitted to hospital, but 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."


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