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Mental patient hangs himself in the Lake District, a coroner hears
2:00pm Wednesday 8th August 2012 in News
A mentally ill man drank a large quantity of alcohol before killing himself at a Lake District beauty spot, an inquest heard.
Engineer Andrew Forrest, of Accrington, was found hanged from a tree by a local milkman in full public view at Waterhead, Ambleside, on April 22 2011.
The hearing was told that the previous day police had taken the 45-year-old to West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, for an assessment by psychiatrists.
Although they found a rope and penknife in his possession, he was released.
One of the three health pro-fessionals who carried out tests, Dr Sugato Sarkar, said: “He (Mr Forrest) was well presented —clean shaven and he had good eye contact.
“We did acknowledge that he had been drinking some alcohol but there was no indication as to its effects — he was in good humour and animated. At that time I did not feel he had any signs of clinical depression.”
Mr Forrest’s wife, Kim, the mother of one of his three children, expressed her dismay at the testimony.
Speaking at the two-day inq-uest in Kendal, she said: “I don’t know how you could have let him go. It was risky — the evidence that he had a rope should have set alarm bells ringing.”
But coroner Ian Smith app-ortioned no blame. He said: “There were some signs for worry that things weren’t right — he had a rope and he had thrown his phone away — but he did communicate well with the three health professionals.
“None of them saw anything under the surface and they did their best to assess him thoroughly, and saw no reason to detain him against his will.”
Following the incident an investigation was carried out by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, and seven ‘recommendations’ were highlighted in a subsequent report.
But Pamela Travis, who man-aged mental health in West Cumbria at the time of Mr Forrest’s death, added: “From the report I can see that the assessment carried out was thorough.”
The hearing was told Mr Forrest had a history of mental and physical problems and, after trying to commit suicide by overdose in November 2010, was admitted to the Royal Blackburn Hospital under the Mental Health Act.
Although discharged in February 2011, he was re-admitted the following month on a voluntary basis. On April 13, he ‘walked away’ before making his way to the Lake District.
He had suffered from bladder cancer and sought medical help for his migraines, which the inquest was told left him with ‘altered consciousness’.
Mr Smith said these migraines were ‘completely central to his lack of wellbeing’, but added: “I am not going to criticise what did or did not happen in relation to these because we have not heard about that in this inquest.”
He said: “Andrew Forrest died as a consequence of his own actions while intoxicated by alcohol and suffering from mental illness.”