‘Our son was let down’: Northampton man, 38, who died on the Racecourse ‘fell through mental health net’, inquest hears

Daniel Sullivan's parents feel their son was 'let down by the NHS and other agencies'

Friday, 4th June 2021, 4:46 pm
Daniel Sullivan died on the Racecourse in June last year.

A Northampton man who died last year had been suffering with mental health issues which had worsened in the six months prior to his death, an inquest heard.

Daniel Sullivan died on the Racecourse in St George’s Road around 10.30am on June 30, 2020.

Paramedics and air ambulance medics attempted to save the 38-year-old, an inquest heard today (June 4) but the injury proved fatal.

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Dr Mike Biggs, who carried out the post-mortem told the inquest the injury feasibly ‘could have been self-inflicted'.

Mr Sullivan had an anxiety disorder and a mental health behaviour disorder, which, for a number of years, he had been taking prescribed medication for.

The inquest heard how he suffered with paranoia and how he would regularly hear voices in his head.

During the six months prior to his death, his parents say he deteriorated and that ‘he was let down by the NHS and other agencies’ as they struggled to get him the help he needed.

In one particular incident, ten days before his death, Mr Sullivan became the subject of a section 136 order, where he was arrested for his own safety.

The following day (June 21), Mr Sullivan was discharged from St Mary’s in Kettering, despite telling medical professionals that he had recently hurt himself.

Mr Sullivan was referred to Northamptonshire’s Urgent Care and Assessment Team (UCAT) for follow-up appointments.

UCAT made several attempts over the coming week to assess Mr Sullivan, however he did not engage.

Mr Sullivan’s father - Chris Sullivan - told the inquest that he knew he had lost his son when he was released from hospital rather than being detained.

Chris said: “There was no process in place to stop him from falling through the net.

“We felt let down by the system, which is not fit for purpose.

“We were devastated when he was released (from St Mary’s on June 21).

“We believe he had a complete mental breakdown.

“We lost him the moment he was released. We think the situation could have been reviewed if he was properly assessed.

“We’re devastated by the loss. We did not know where to go and we still don’t.”

Other family members also gave evidence to the inquest about Mr Sullivan and his mental health condition.

A statement from Mr Sullivan’s sister, read to the inquest, said: “In my opinion he lacked the ability to handle money and make proper adult decisions.

“The mental health services treated him like he was a fully functioning adult and that he could access support if he needed to.

“I know he needed help and he should have been sectioned earlier on in June.”

Another statement from Mr Sullivan’s mother, read to the inquest, added: “For the last year of his life he reported hearing voices.

“Lockdown was when things went downhill. We tried to get him help but we were unable to do so.

“Our family and I feel Daniel has been let down by the NHS and other agencies who should have been supporting Daniel.

“He should have been detained ten days before he died.”

Senior coroner, Anne Pember, returned a conclusion that Mr Sullivan ‘injured himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed’.

She said she could not return a verdict of suicide.

Ms Pember said: “I do not know what was in his mind, whether he wished to injure himself or whether he was responding to voices inside his head.”

The coroner extended her condolences to the family and referred to the case as ‘sad’.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.