Family Speak For First Time About Their Loss In Bid To Help Others
The family of a father-of-five who took his life are supporting a campaign aimed at reducing the number of suicides.
Simon Graham, 45, who had a history of mental illness was found hanging by staff in a room at College Road respite home in Mosley after texting his wife, Kelly, ‘bye’.
Hours earlier he had been deemed to be a low suicide risk, a coroner’s report said.
After seeing the text, Kelly raised the alarm but there was a delay of around 30 minutes in coming to Simon’s aid because there was only one member of staff working alone and his room key was incorrectly labelled, the report added.
Following an inquest into Simon’s death in May 2018, James Bennett assistant coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, issued a prevention of future deaths order concerned that other deaths may arise unless action was taken.
Kelly, 39, of Solihull, has instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help secure the futures of her children. She is now using World Suicide Prevention Day to speak for the first time about her loss and raise awareness of the support available.
Expert Opinion“Simon was a much-loved husband and father and while more than two years have passed since his death Kelly and their children remain devastated by what happened.
“The family are still struggling to come to terms with how such a tragedy could happen and are determined for as many lessons as possible to be learned from Simon’s death.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is an important reminder that people need not suffer alone and help and support is out there.
“We will continue to support Kelly in her campaign so others don’t have to suffer the heartache her family has.” Laura Daly - Senior Associate Solicitor
Simon, a carpenter, was diagnosed with depression in 2015 which was later linked to alcohol use. On 28 April, 2018, he was admitted to hospital after taking an overdose.
He was placed under the care of Birmingham And Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Mental health workers concluded there was no imminent risk of suicide and Simon was discharged to a respite home in College Road on 3 May, 2018, an inquest in 2018 was told.
Upon arrival at the home run by Future Care and Social Care Association, it was concluded that the level of support Simon would receive did not need to be changed and Simon was advised how to contact mental health services if necessary, the prevention of future deaths report said.
It added that on 4 May a risk assessment was carried out and Simon’s suicide risk was classed as low.
Later that day Simon and Kelly visited a pub for a meal. Shortly after dropping him back at the home she found a text on her phone from Simon saying ‘bye’. She called the home to raise the alarm for them to check on Simon.
A prevention of future deaths report found there was a delay of between 25-32 minutes before staff forced open the door to the room Simon was in. This caused a delay in dialling 999. A support worker, who was working alone, also had to break off from performing CPR to answer the door of the home thinking it was an ambulance crew.
When paramedics were called Simon was pronounced dead just before 8.45pm.
An inquest concluded Simon’s cause of death was suicide.
The report issued in October 2018 also highlighted concerns around staff working alone, the labelling of residents’ room keys and how qualified staff were to conduct suicide risk assessments.
Kelly said: “It’s still hard to believe that Simon has gone and incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that I have lost my dear husband, whom I expected to grow old with and the children have lost their father.
“All we wanted is for Simon to get better and come home so we could be a family again.
“Losing him in the way we did has only added to the grief and pain we continue to feel. That he won’t be here to watch his children grow and celebrate milestones such as them passing their exams or getting married is heart-breaking.
“Anyone can be affected by mental illness and it’s vital that people receive the care they need and they know that support is out there.
“We continue to have concerns over Simon’s death and whether more could have been done to help him.
“I just hope that by speaking out our family can help others before it’s too late.”
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families affected by mental health care
World Suicide Prevention Day is on 10 September. For more information visit https://www.iasp.info/wspd2020/