Widow blames health team over suicide

A WIDOW is fighting to improve mental health services after the death of her husband.

Following the inquest into George Fleming's death, his devastated wife Susan, said her husband's suicide could have been prevented.

Mrs Fleming, of Woodhall Crescent, Copley, Halifax, said her "outgoing" husband had received "ineffectual" care from Calderdale's crisis resolution team.

She is now fighting to improve mental health services in the wake of his death by becoming a member of the South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust. She has also enrolled on a counselling course so she can help other bereaved families.

The couple had been planning on moving to Cyprus together before his depression hit.

Mrs Fleming, 62, said: "We thought we had another 20 years together. It's just like having your right arm cut off.

"People round here used to smile at us because even when we were in our 60s we'd walk round hand in hand.

"He still told me he loved me every day. My life is just empty now."

The inquest at Calderdale Coroner's Court heard Mr Fleming, 61, became depressed in summer 2008.

He took an overdose which staff did not treat as a serious suicide attempt.

The grandfather had a family history of depression and had tried to kill himself ten years previously after a nervous breakdown, the hearing was told.

After the second attempt, he was referred back to the crisis team then discharged again, though he continued to see a counsellor.

In a session on December 9, 2008, he reported feeling distressed but was not judged to be at immediate risk. The next day his daughter Nicola discovered him hanged at home.

Trust staff told the hearing at Halifax Town Hall that the crisis team's help had always been available.

Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of the mind was disturbed.

Mrs Fleming told the Courier the family had questioned the quality of the visits and raised concern when he was discharged in November 2008.

Mrs Fleming said she was considering civil action.

"If there's one thing left that I can do for my husband it's to make sure he didn't die in vain," she said.