Man's suicide after assault

A MAN who hanged himself months after suffering serious injuries in a town centre assault had been considered 'low risk' by mental health experts just 12 days before he died.

A MAN who hanged himself months after suffering serious injuries in a town centre assault had been considered 'low risk' by mental health experts just 12 days before he died.

Jonathan Bird, of Dursley Road, was found dead at his partner's flat in Wordsworth Drive on December 12.

An inquest on Tuesday heard the 33-year-old developed depression and psychiatric problems, having been victim of an assault in the early hours of June 17 last year.

It left Mr Bird, a supervisor at Anglo-Dutch Meats, with a fractured skull and jaw, requiring major surgery. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

His partner Lorraine Walters told the inquest, "After the assault he changed — he seemed more thoughtful and considered and was reluctant to go out.

"He had counselling but didn't like to keep going over the events. He had been having suicidal thoughts since the beginning of November. I was monitoring him as much as I could."

Miss Walters said she later discovered she was pregnant and said Mr Bird was 'looking forward to us being a proper family'.

Their baby, Eloise May, was born in June this year, six months after Mr Bird's death.

Miss Walters said on December 12, Mr Bird had 'seemed really distant' and wouldn't go with her to a pre-arranged appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.

Before heading back to Eastbourne, she tried phoning his mobile several times but it went straight through to answerphone.

When Miss Walters got back to her flat around 11.45pm, she discovered Mr Bird's body.

PC Peter Hall, who attended the scene, told the inquest there was no sign of struggle and a suicide note had been found in Mr Bird's wallet.

The inquest heard Mr Bird had been admitted to a psychiatric ward for two weeks, between November 6 and 20.

He was later seen by staff from the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHT), which provides 24-hour short-term help to those suffering with depression and psychiatric problems.

Martin Komen, of the CRHT, said Mr Bird had been having flashbacks to his assault and on November 30 told staff he was considering suicide.

Mr Komen said, "He wanted to take his own life as he said he felt it was not worth living any more."

But after a further assessment on December 6, Mr Bird was assessed as being at 'low risk' and showed 'no anxiety or stress'.

As a result he was discharged from CRHT care and transferred to the community mental health team (CMHT).

Mr Komen admitted Mr Bird's mental health had 'fluctuated' and said his risk status 'was low at times and high at other times'.

Coroner Alan Craze asked what had led staff to believe Mr Bird was 'low risk'.

Mr Komen said, "It was based on the assessment of Mr Bird at an appointment with two mental health professionals and Mr Bird himself.

"Had his risk been medium or high he would not have been transferred to CMHT."

Steve Malone, of the CMHT, said, "On November 30 he was expressing hopelessness and didn't see the point of living.

"But later that day he said he had reasons to live."

Mr Malone said Mr Bird was due to attend a meeting on December 11 but did not arrive.

He later agreed to reschedule it for the following week but was found dead the next day.

A post-mortem examination found injuries which were consistent with hanging, with no alcohol or drugs of any kind found in his system.

Mr Craze said, "There are inevitably going to be concerns when a person who has been the subject of treatment by mental health services nevertheless still takes his own life.

"It is terribly easy to say something should have been done in hindsight — a further period of hospital treatment might have helped but it might not.

"I'm quite satisfied no-one else was involved and there is ample evidence of the reasoning which was going through his mind."

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of mind was disturbed.