Sent home from hospital days before suicide

Trinity Place NCP car park.
Trinity Place NCP car park.

A man who was found dead at the NCP car park took his own life just days after being discharged from hospital.

Stuart John Spray, 67, of Burlington Place, was found dead on December 5 last year after jumping from the top of the building.

He had recently been treated at the DGH psychiatry ward after a suicide attempt, and was discharged just three days before his death.

An inquest at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday December 17, heard Mr Spray had a history of depression and suicide attempts.

His wife Devina Spray said, “I was not happy with the fact Stuart was sent home. I hope that in future there will be better recognition and treatment of patients with mental health problems.”

She said he had taken an overdose on July 20, 2013, and was taken to hospital. He was transferred to the psychiatry ward, and discharged on August 6. He had a stint in The Priory in Roehampton, in mid-November, and was discharged on November 18. Another suicide attempt was made on November 26, and he was again taken to the DGH psychiatry ward.

He was discharged on December 2, and had visits from the mental health team on December 3 and 4. He was due to have his third visit on December 5, the day he was found dead. On the morning of December 5, he walked his wife to work, and visited the GP for a prescription. Then some time between his appointment, and 12.30pm, he went to the NCP car park at Trinity Trees and took his own life.

Coroner Alan Craze asked Dr Greg Baginski, the consultant psychiatrist who discharged him on his last stint in hospital, if Mr Spray should have been sent home.

“When I saw him he appeared positive about the future,” said Dr Baginski. “He in fact then said in his own words, that was very stupid and it should never happen again.”

He said Mr Spray did not want to stay in hospital and it would have been very difficult to section him. Mrs Spray criticised the move, saying she should have been involved in his discharge, and that she may have been able to persuade her husband to stay in hospital.

Mr Craze said, “With the benefit of hindsight, I do feel if he could have been kept in hospital for another week, not only might a better understanding of his risk and his illness have been reached, but more careful planning for his discharge might also have been reached.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.