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Mentally ill woman took own life after Ulster Hospital discharge


The Ulster Hospital, Dundonald

The Ulster Hospital, Dundonald

The Ulster Hospital, Dundonald

A woman with a history of mental illness killed herself hours after she was discharged from A&E for home treatment, an inquest has been told.

IT consultant Giselle Kennedy (51) had been taken to the Ulster Hospital after a family member became concerned with her mental health.

She had attempted to kill herself on her way to hospital.

Ms Kennedy was then assessed as not being suicidal and sent home into the care of her family to return to hospital the following day for more treatment.

The following morning, her niece-in-law Georgina Johnston became concerned when she discovered that Ms Kennedy had got up and left the house in her dressing gown.

She was subsequently found hanged near their Killinchy house.

Ms Kennedy had experienced two previous bouts of mental ill-health that were formally diagnosed as "acute psychotic episodes with hyper manic features", her brother Noel Kennedy, an approved mental health worker, told the court.

The court heard that Ms Kennedy had also taken an overdose after separating from her husband to move to the Republic of Ireland to spend time more with her ill father.

Mr Kennedy said that she had received no diagnosis for any underlying mental health problem.

At the time of her death, Ms Kennedy was living with her nephew and niece-in-law Georgina, who rang the ambulance when she found her aunt staring blankly and not speaking on September 9, 2010.

The psychiatric nurse who assessed Ms Kennedy in accident and emergency found her not to be suicidal and agreed with the consultant psychiatrist that she should receive home treatment and return for a doctor assessment the following day.

Ms Johnston told the court that she asked: "Are you sure Giselle is well enough to go home?"

Coroner Mr Jim Kitson concluded: "Giselle most probably had a long history of mental health difficulties she kept to herself."

"I find no fault with her [psychiatric nurse who assessed Ms Kennedy's] assessment process.

"The system is the system. Mistakes happen.

"Assessments can be and are by their nature imperfect.

"It appears that Giselle was more ill than perhaps was appreciated at the time."

Ms Kennedy's brother described her as "a very active person" who "loved horses and loved life".

"She was very modest, very quiet but friendly," he said.

Belfast Telegraph