Haydon Croucher: Mum pushes for mental health change over son's death after sister's disappearance

  • Tracey Furness told ITV News Anglia her son would still be alive if he had received treatment

The mother of a man who took his own life months after his sister disappeared has criticised the state of mental health services, saying that he may still be alive if he had been treated at the right time.

Hayden Croucher, 24, died at home in Milton Keynes in November 2019, just nine months after his half-sister Leah went missing - a factor his mother believes increased his anxiety.

Leah Croucher, then 19, has never been found, and police continue to appeal for information in a bid to trace her.

Mr Croucher's mother Tracey Furness, speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, said her son had already had a long history of mental health issues when Leah went missing in February 2019.

Haydon Croucher with his sister Leah, who went missing in February 2019. Credit: Family photo

By October of that year, he had told mental health teams that he believed he could not keep himself safe - but was told there were no local beds and put on a home treatment plan by the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.

He was discharged to his house, but his mother intervened and took him into her home instead.

"When I say I was forced to bring Haydon to our family home, I don't mean that with any level of resentment," Ms Furness told ITV News Anglia.

"I was left with no option. My last words as I left that assessment were 'Do you want me to find my son dead?'

"And I did."

The trust admitted at his inquest that it had made mistakes, and said that if Mr Croucher had been admitted to hospital in October he would have been treated.

Ms Furness said no care plan was developed and on 12 November he was discharged to his GP without his family being consulted. He took his own life two days later.

"Haydon wasn't offered a bed, the Mental Health Act as an option wasn't explored - Haydon could have been sectioned," she said. "I am angry. I do believe had Haydon received the appropriate care and support, Haydon would be here today."

Haydon Croucher had a long history of mental health troubles. Credit: ITV News Anglia

She is now hoping to use her experiences to campaign for better mental health support, and in particular funding for more psychiatric bed places.

Ms Furness added: "I use my grief in the best way. If that means Haydon hasn't died in vain, and means that I can reach out and make changes for others that are experiencing poor mental health, then that's all I can hope for now."

A spokesman for the trust said: "While there can be no doubt that everyone involved in the late Mr Croucher's care thought that they were doing their best for him at the time, it is clear, with the benefit of hindsight that mistakes were made and for that the trust is deeply sorry."

Who to contact if you or someone you know needs help:

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

  • Papyrus offers support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am and midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to pat@papyrus-uk.org

  • Mind also offers mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 or text them on 86463. There is also lots of information available on their website.