Man plunged to his death after overdose

AN EASTBOURNE man jumped off cliffs near Beachy Head hours after telling hospital staff he had taken an overdose.

Days before his death Giles Parker, of Eastbourne Road, Pevensey Bay, had been prescribed anti-depressants, following months of declining such treatment.

An inquest heard the former plant nursery worker, who gave up work in 2004 because of health problems, had been to the GP on numerous occasions.

Mr Parker, who suffered a schizophrenic breakdown in 1995, was prescribed an anti-depressant on July 23 last year and three days later turned up at 6am at the DGH saying he had taken an overdose of around 30 tablets the night before.

He was seen by Dr Robert Greyville-Heygate, an Accident & Emergency (A&E) doctor, and a series of tests and examinations were undertaken which showed his respiration was stable.

He told staff he did not have suicidal thoughts and was offered the services of the psychiatric liaison team but declined and left the hospital.

The inquest heard that a couple from Holland were walking by the lighthouse at Belle Tout later that morning at around 10.15am when a vehicle Mr Parker was driving sped by a nearby track.

A letter read on behalf of witness Mart van der Vlugt said Mr Parker had left the ignition running, it added, "He ran around the back of the vehicle, towards the cliff edge and dived off. He ran off the cliff and appeared to be in a hurry to do it."

A post-mortem showed he had died of multiple injuries.

His mother Madeleine De-Quay, who lives in Canada, said he was a popular regular at the Pevensey Bay Hotel where everyone was shocked to hear of his death.

She said she had no doubt he had taken his own life because he could no longer live with a mental illness.

She, along with Mr Parker's sisters, questioned why the team at the DGH on the day did not have access to his previous mental health records and why, if someone came into hospital having said they had taken an overdose, they would be considered not suicidal.

Mr Utham Shanker, a consultant at the A&E department, said a system was in place where in certain cases people could be detained under the Mental Health Act but Mr Parker was deemed a low risk and therefore the hospital could not stop him from leaving the premises.

He told the inquest that the team did not have access to patients' mental health records because of legal reasons.

Had Mr Parker been seen by the psychiatric liaison team they could have accessed any such records.

Ms De-Quay said, "I feel very strongly that this privacy regarding mental health records is perpetuating the stigma of mental health."

Coroner Alan Craze said, "I find myself on so many occasions saying 'if only'. If only Mr Parker had chosen to stay or there was something medically wrong this might have been different but the fact is he didn't."

Recording a verdict of suicide he called Mr Parker's death an 'awful tragedy' and added, "I can't see that anybody linked to this tragedy could have taken different action."