Shocked family ‘not told’ of DJ’s suicidal thoughts
Last updated at 12:19, Friday, 12 October 2012
The family of a Workington DJ who died days after being referred to a mental health crisis team say lessons must be learned from his death.
James Francis Rooney, 57, a regular DJ at Yankees until 2007, died on October 25, 2010, after his brother found him with a belt around his neck.
An inquest heard that the retired Sellafield worker was a fit man until three years before his death, when he underwent heart surgery.
His recovery from surgery was prolonged because of a wound infection and he did not return to his role as a DJ.
Between May and October 2010, Mr Rooney visited his GP, Dr Angela Peel-White, many times, concerned he was physically ill.
Numerous tests, including a full-body CT scan, came back clear.
By August 2010, the doctor, who had a background in psychiatry, felt Mr Rooney had anxiety and depression and referred him to the First Step team for talking therapy.
He was struggling to sleep and eat and was prescribed antidepressants.
On October 18 he told his doctor, unprompted, that he did not want to kill himself.
She felt he was having suicidal thoughts and immediately referred him to the crisis resolution and home treatment team at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He had 17 meetings or phone calls with the team.
He reassured team members who visited him that he had no plans to self harm and was judged as a low suicide risk.
But on October 24, Mr Rooney revealed he had thought about driving into water.
Crisis practitioner Tony Walker arranged a referral to the Croftlands Trust unit in Whitehaven.
He was still judged as having a low suicide risk.
But the next morning, before he could be admitted to the unit, Mr Rooney’s brother Philip found him in the bedroom of his home at Broadacres, High Harrington, with a belt around his neck.
He was taken to hospital and put on a life support machine but died later.
A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Rooney died as a result of an overdose of antidepressants and the belt around his neck restricting the oxygen supply to his brain. He also had heart disease.
Mr Rooney was one of eight children and had helped to care for his disabled brother Gerard.
At the inquest, the close-knit family raised concerns that, although they had supported him during his illness, they were not fully informed about his condition.
His sister Elizabeth Cattanach said relatives had no idea he had mentioned suicide until the day before he died and she and sister Marie Scott only found out by chance.
Staff from the team told the inquest they could not have discussed Mr Rooney’s case with relatives without his permission but added that they had not sought it.
Coroner David Roberts said: “Mr Rooney took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.”
He added that there was no evidence of neglect or gross failure on the part of the medical staff.
An investigation by the NHS trust after Mr Rooney’s death resulted in nine recommendations being implemented covering areas such as liaison with GPs, supervision of crisis practitioners and risk management training.
After the inquest, Mr Rooney’s family said: “It has been difficult to hear that his death might have been prevented.
“Given that the team acknowledged we were closely involved in James’ care, we also have grave concerns about the team’s lack of communication with us over the last weekend of James’s life when his condition had deteriorated so rapidly.
“We were additionally saddened to discover from the post-mortem and the coroner’s statement that James’ serious heart disease had returned. In our opinion James really was physically ill.”
Their distress had been compounded, they said, because the trust had not provided a copy of its internal investigation until a week ago, despite them asking for more than a year.
They said: “Our hope is that the trust will finally take action to ensure that no other family will suffer the stress and pain which we have endured over the last two years. Lessons must be learned.”
A spokesman for the trust said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Rooney and our thoughts are with them at this very sad time.
“We have taken this tragic incident extremely seriously and have conducted a detailed and thorough investigation.
“The coroner was satisfied by the actions the trust has taken as a result of this investigation, with evidence presented by Professor David Dagnan in court.
“We apologise that the report was not provided in a timely manner. However, it was crucial that the internal investigation was complete and thorough.”
First published at 11:49, Friday, 12 October 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
- Don't forget to pick up this week's Times & Star!
- You look like that man off the TV!
- Farmer keeps 260ft turbine bid in motion with appeal (3 comments)
- Workington arson victim fears mistaken identity
- June 11 launch for West Cumbria flood defences
- Workington store closing (1 comment)
- Fish factory axes 40 jobs after loss of key contract (1 comment)
- Wedding guest left for dead after Workington hit and run
- Obituary - Richard Wimpress, of Cockermouth
- Herdwick given EU protected status