Belfast Telegraph

Midwife Aoife who died after suicide attempt 'locked in abusive relationship'

By Adrian Rutherford

The family of a woman who took her own life after splitting from her fiancé had expressed concerns about the relationship, an inquest has heard.

Aoife Ni Uallachain died four days after a suicide attempt at the Bluestone mental health unit at Craigavon Area Hospital.

The 30-year-old midwife, who was originally from Dundalk in Co Louth, had suffered from depression for several months.

The inquest at Armagh courthouse has previously heard that Aoife was troubled by two major events in her personal life before her death in February 2010.

Her mother Breda had been diagnosed with cancer, while a 10-year relationship with her fiancé Darran Potter had recently ended.

The night before her suicide attempt, Aoife was said to be "anxious and desperate". Yesterday Dr John Simpson, a consultant psychiatrist with the Southern Trust, said he believed both issues were major factors in Aoife's depression.

"It's a judgment call – certainly there was no previous history of depressive illness. It looks, on the balance of probability, that both stresses would have caused the illness," he said.

The inquest heard Aoife had been "locked into" the "manipulative and abusive relationship" and had suffered "physical and emotional abuse over a period of time".

There had been "a violent dispute" which had caused her to leave England, where she was working as a midwife, and temporarily return home.

Despite concerns over the response of staff to Aoife's mental state in the hours before she died, Dr Simpson said he was satisfied she had received the best care.

The inquest heard there had been "a pendulum swing" in Aoife's mood on February 6 – the day before she attempted suicide.

At 7pm staff noted she seemed "relaxed". However, her mood changed dramatically following a 35-minute phone call to her fiancé.

Staff nurse Lee Heron recalled that by 7.45pm, Aoife seemed in "a desperate, anxious state".

However, the extent of her anxiety had not been recorded in the medical notes.

The inquest had previously heard that Aoife's room had been cleaned that morning after the Southern Trust received authorisation from the PSNI.

Yesterday, a PSNI constable told the inquest that checks had been made and this was not correct – the trust had received no authorisation from police.

The inquest continues.


Aoife Ni Uallachain worked as a midwife at Basildon University Hospital in Essex and was engaged to her partner of 10 years. She died at Craigavon Area Hospital on February 11, 2010 – four days after attempting to take her own life at the hospital's mental health unit. The inquest heard how she battled depression and anxiety in the months before her death.

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