The Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust has been criticized for its inadequate support of a man who tragically took his own life, according to a ruling by a coroner. David Stevens, who had sought help from the trust multiple times, was found dead at his home in Willington. While the trust acknowledged its shortcomings, the coroner could not definitively establish a direct link between these failures and Mr. Stevens’ death. However, the deceased’s family firmly believed that systemic failures within the trust played a role in his tragic demise.
Mr. Stevens had a history of depression and paranoid personality disorder, and he had reached out to the trust’s access team in search of assistance. Despite his ongoing struggles with anxiety, sleeplessness, and suicidal thoughts, he was deemed suitable for low-level interventions. This decision has come under scrutiny from his family, who argued that a more comprehensive approach to his care should have been taken.
The inquest revealed missed opportunities to reassess or escalate Mr. Stevens’ treatment plan. Furthermore, the family expressed frustration over the lengthy 21-week wait for his treatment to commence. The crisis team, responsible for providing immediate support during mental health emergencies, was also highlighted as being understaffed and overwhelmed at the time. These factors undoubtedly contributed to the inadequate support Mr. Stevens received in his time of need.
Prior to his death, Mr. Stevens had been treated at a hospital for an overdose. Despite expressing regret and a desire to live, he was discharged. The coroner acknowledged the existence of dysfunction within the trust but found no evidence of a deliberate denial of life-saving treatment. Ultimately, the coroner’s ruling recorded Mr. Stevens’ death as a suicide.
The Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust has accepted the need for improvements and has extended its condolences to the grieving family. The trust recognizes the importance of learning from this tragedy and ensuring that similar failures are not repeated in the future. While the coroner could not establish a direct causal link between the trust’s shortcomings and Mr. Stevens’ death, it is essential that the trust takes all necessary steps to provide adequate support and care for individuals struggling with mental health issues.