Parents say daughter was 'failed' by mental health services before her death, inquest hears

Rachel Garrett died in Brighton in July 2020. Credit: ITV Meridian

Psychiatrists and the police have defended their treatment of a 22-year-old woman, from Hove, in the months before her death.

An inquest has heard that Rachel Garrett had attempted to take her own life on five occasions over a four-week period, with her parents saying she was failed by mental health services.

The hearing in Brighton heard Rachel Garrett was a talented musician, a drummer performing with the local band 'Grasshopper' - described as having an "infectious sense of humour and positive outlook".

The hearing also heard about her mental health struggles over many years of her life.

She suffered a breakdown while at university in Bath and in early 2020 was being looked after by her parents at home in Hove.

An extract of Rachel's diary was read to the court - in which she wrote: "I am rapidly deteriorating… I don't understand how bad you are supposed to get before they help you?"

Rachel died in Brighton in July of that year, and today (Tuesday 23 May) two doctors who worked for the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust at the time, and were involved in her care, gave evidence.

Rachel was released from Mill View Hospital in Hove in July 2020 shortly before her death. Credit: ITV Meridian

Consultant Psychiatrist Swaraj Thancanamootoo defended his decision to discharge her after just 72 hours from Meadowfield Hospital in Worthing in April 2020 despite Rachel saying she feared she'd "relapse" if not in a secure unit.

The Dr told the inquest that in his opinion: "Being in hospital was not going to be of any further benefit to her."

Another consultant psychiatrist, Dr Graham Campbell, was also asked to explain why he'd released Rachel from a 'place of safety' at Mill View Hospital in Hove in July, despite Rachel's desire to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

He said: "We made a decision to try to help her manage her own risk."

The inquest heard that there had been five attempts by Rachel to end her life in a four-week period (in July 2020), before her death.

This afternoon a police officer described one of those incidents on 17 July 2020, where Rachel was restrained in Brighton by members of the public to try to prevent her from harming herself.

During that struggle, she was arrested for assaulting a mental health nurse and police officer and taken into custody.

The family's barrister, Emma Favata, put it to Sergeant Rob Dewing of Sussex Police: "It was a failure not to detain her under the mental health act and to arrest her?"

The officer, now acting Inspector, replied: "I disagree. I had a clear criminal offence and a victim of crime in front of me."

The inquest continues and is expected to conclude next Friday.

If you or your family are in need of support you can contact the following organisations:

Samaritans - 116 123

National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK - 0800 689 5652

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - 0800 58 58 58

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