UoM student died by suicide hours after mental health ward release, inquest hears

She was described as ‘a good person who wanted to help everyone’


A University of Manchester Nursing student stepped in front of a train hours after being released from a mental health ward, an inquest heard today.

26-year-old Mental Health Nursing student, Rebecca Henry, died at Farnworth Station on the 14th of January.

According to Bolton News, Rebecca had been voluntarily admitted to hospital after three separate suicide attempts. Doctors at Oak Ward in Farnworth had decided to not section her, and let her leave the facility when she asked permission.

At the inquest held at Bolton Coroners Court, Coroner John Pollard criticised the hospital, and said staff had "perfectly valid reasons" to section Rebecca.

He said there was "ample evidence to show that this poor girl was at the absolute end of her ability to protect herself."

He added: "I look at the care and I have to say that the actions of the team are not ones which I agree with myself but these actions are taken by professionals day in and day out and they nearly always get it right."

Rebecca had a long history of struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder, contending with self harm and suicidal thoughts.

She was in her final year of studying Mental heath nursing at Manchester. Her performance was described as "outstanding" by Dr Simon Merry-West, the university's director of student experience.

Rebecca's choice to study Nursing was described by her mother Sara Richardson as "unsurprising".

She said: "Becca chose the course that she did because she was a good person who wanted to help everyone.

"She would have liked the world to be better than it is which is always a difficult thing to live with."

Mrs Richardson added: "The sad thing is that she had a really loving family around her that would have done more if they had known how."

Dr Simon Merry-West said: "Rebecca was very gifted academically, very talented, and also extremely popular both with staff and the students.

"It was quite heart-warming really I remember speaking to Mrs Richardson the morning after Becca died and even by that point she had already had various messages of support from students."

The Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation trust has conducted an investigation into the circumstances leading up to Rebecca's death and has ordered a number of staff to undergo additional training.

Gill Green, the Director of Nursing at the trust said: "Everyone involved in this case remain shocked and saddened at what happened."

She offered her "deepest condolences" to Becca's family, saying: “We fully accept the coroner’s findings and that the standard of care given to Ms Henry fell short of what she should have received.

"For this we are truly sorry and have taken robust steps to this put this right and reduce the chance of this happening again."

Dr Dilraj Sohi, the consultant who cared for Rebecca at Bolton hospital, said doctors try and work with patients rather than using force, saying: "We need to be able to say that action we are taking involves the person and empowers them.

"One huge thing is that the least restrictive course of action is key.

"If we did detain her that would take power away and say that we are in power or we will take control of your life – and that leads to more suicidal thoughts."

UoM Student Support are contactable via email (studentsupport@manchester.ac.uk) and Greater Manchester Nightline contact information can be found here.