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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Suicide man was deemed ‘low-risk’

A WHITEHAVEN man who hanged himself at home had only hours earlier been seen by a Crisis Team mental health nurse and assessed as low risk of suicide, an inquest has heard.

The body of John Gilmour, 47, a Sellafield laundry worker, was discovered by his friend Edward Doran, who had called on December 1 last, to see if John was going into town with him, as arranged.

Earlier, at 2am, Mr Gilmour had sent for the police who found him in a confused and anxious state and under the illusion there were people outside “saying things to him’’. He claimed a camera was embedded in a wall inside his house.

With his agreement, offficers took Mr Gilmour, single, of High Road, Kells, to West Cumberland Hospital where he saw Josephine Garraway of the Crisis Resolution Team whose role it is to assess the mental state of people in crisis.

Mr Gilmour, who had suffered from depression, was initially, she said, speaking “in a pressured way as if he wanted to get it all out. Then he calmed down, he was lucid and not psychotic. He believed these people wanted him to seek help rather than do anything to him. This was generated within his imagination. He was in touch with his surroundings, able to rationalise - a different man to the one police described.’’

After almost two hours with Mr Gilmour, Mrs Garraway concluded he was not a risk to himself or to others, and allowed him to go home with a follow-up appointment made.

“I let him go home because at that point I had no concerns,’’ said Mrs Garraway, “If I had, I would have consulted the on-call psychiatrist. He did not want to be in hospital; I had no reason to detain him.’’

Four hours later, Mr Gilmour had killed himself. The verdict of coroner David Roberts was that he took his own life.

That Mr Gilmour had future plans, intending to return to work on Monday, was a sign he was looking ahead, said Mrs Garraway. He accepted he had fleeting thoughts about suicide but denied any current thoughts and never described a method he’d use, which would indicate anintention.

Mr Doran said Mr Gilmour had stopped drinking in July but had a weekend binge a few days before he died. The death of his parents, Edna and Edmund Gilmour, had, as an only child, badly affected him, as had a break-up with his former long-term partner, in 2009. He had been greatly upset also at the loss, in a mugging on holiday, of his parents’ wedding rings which he wore on his neck. He said his friend’s death was totally unexpected. “He had never said he would take his own life, I had never seen him in a suicidal state. He would get upset and down when he had a few drinks.’’ When Mr Doran had spoken to him on the phone around 10pm the night before he had seemed “a bit agitated.’’

“I told him to close his blinds, have a cup of tea and get himself off to bed.’’

Mr Gilmour’s cousin, Mandy Harrison, said: “I can’t believe he’s gone.’’ She said John had worked at Marchon for 15 years as a fork-lift truck driver. He had worked briefly on building work before going to Sellafield. He had “struggled’’ with his parents’ death– they had been older when he was born, he lived with them; they were all close.

Mr Roberts said: “Mr Gilmour could only be detained in hospital against his will for his own safety if there was sufficient reason from a mental health disorder, and that could only be authorised by a psychiatrist, another doctor and a social worker. He did not warrant such a detention; the bar was not reached.

“That he had agreed to meet another member of the Team later that day was seen as a positive sign. There is no evidence of a systems failure. He never said he intended to take his own life. He had experienced a relationship breakdown and not got over that or the death of his parents. Had symptoms from his withdrawal from alcohol affected his thought processes? I cannot conclude one way or the other, but binge drinking could not have helped his state of mind.’’

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