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Mother whose son killed himself 'let down' by mental heath services

Photo: MEN syndication

A mother whose son plunged to his death from a bridge hours after threatening to do so says he was let down by mental health services.

Tyler Smith died after suffering horrendous injuries following the 100ft fall from Stockport Viaduct. Deborah Cooper, 47, said her son had made multiple threats to jump from the viaduct to police and mental health staff hours earlier - and had tried to kill himself four times in 48 hours.

Tyler, 19, was discharged from Stepping Hill hospital by Pennine Care staff six hours before the fall after being admitted following a prescription drug overdose.

He had earlier tried to strangle himself in a police cell when he was detained for stealing paracetamol after escaping from hospital. After returning to Stepping Hill, medics discharged Tyler with a prescription for three-days worth of medication. This was despite numerous suicide attempts in the previous two days and threats he would jump from the viaduct.

He downed the pills and fell from the viaduct hours later on October 9, 2014. Tyler died of his injuries a week later at Wythenshawe hospital.

His death was ruled accidental after a coroner was told by a police officer he slipped from the bridge.

Mrs Cooper accused police of failing to tell mental health staff Tyler had tried to kill himself when he was detained - and slammed officers for arresting him in the first place. She said he should have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act as he was considered ‘high risk’.

Mrs Cooper has not spoken publicly about her son’s death since the inquest last year. She decided to speak following the tragic death of Natasha Wise, who jumped from a bridge in Whalley Range earlier this month following an 18-month wait for counselling for depression and drug abuse.

Mrs Cooper said she was determined to ‘fight for answers’ over Tyler’s care by mental health staff and police after seeing scores of similar cases.

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"I keep seeing the same problems coming up again and again. These tragedies keep happening.

“I will fight to get answers so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Mrs Cooper said: “Tyler was extremely distressed, screaming that he wanted to die. He wasn’t well, he shouldn’t have been taken into custody.

“He should have been taken straight back to hospital and sectioned. When he was in the cell, he threatened to jump from the viaduct.

“He later made the threat to nursing staff and myself. When he was back at Stepping Hill, the police had to be called because he had pulled out his drips and was threatening to go to the viaduct and jump.

“He was in such a state. He didn’t want to leave us, but at the same time he didn’t want to be here. It was a cry for help. They ignored so many of his cries for help.

“They said in-patient treatment wouldn’t help Tyler and that he needed out-patient psychotherapy treatment.

“He was in crisis. He needed to be made stable before being let back out. He wasn’t fit to be discharged, he was going to kill himself.”

Credit: MEN Syndication

“I’d like to offer my most sincere condolences to Mrs Cooper on the tragic death of her son.

“During the inquest into Mr Smith’s death, the trust was fully co-operative and the coroner did not identify any failings in the care we provided that contributed to, or caused, his death.

“We are currently looking into some concerns raised by Mrs Cooper, in line with our complaints procedure. Once this work has concluded, we will be in touch with her.”

– Dr Henry Ticehurst - Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

“The coroner’s inquest in June 2015 into the death of Tyler Smith ruled that he died as a result of accidental death.

“In November 2015, GMP received a complaint regarding the circumstances leading to Tyler’s death. This was investigated by GMP’s Professional Standards Branch and a response was provided.

“This response was appealed and is now being assessed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. As such, it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further at this stage.”

– GMP Spokesperson