Sheffield student killed herself after being told of year wait for mental health support

A Sheffield Hallam University student took her own life after she found she would have to wait up to a year to access NHS mental health services, an inquest heard.

By Sam Cooper
Thursday, 1st August 2019, 8:56 am
Nicole Kaye
Nicole Kaye

Nicole Kaye, aged 21, had been put on the waiting list to access ‘intensive therapy’ in an attempt to help her psychosis – even though she had been flagged as a suicide risk.

The Mirror reported Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust told her inquest it was only able to work ‘with the resources that we have’.

But Ms Kaye was found dead at her parents’ home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, soon after finding out about the wait.

Nicole Kaye

“It is very unfortunate that it was not able to be started straightaway. It took four months for the assessment to take place, but we were with the resources that we have,” Dr Daniel Maughan, a consultant psychiatrist from the Warneford Hospital in Oxford, said.

And Darren Salter, senior coroner for Oxfordshire, concluded a verdict of suicide.

He said: “The correct conclusion is suicide, on the basis that Nicole did the act, on the balance of probabilities at least.

“If the trust could write to me on what the position is regarding that treatment, I think it might be helpful for families as well to have a note of what the position is going forward. It would be helpful and reassuring to understand if there is a prospect of funds becoming available.”

Ms Kaye, who studied fine arts at Sheffield Hallam University, was highlighted as a suicide risk when she went missing in August last year. She was detained under the Mental Health Act.

The inquest was told concerns were raised that Ms Kaye had misinterpreted research about the potential withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking cannabis.

It is believed the part-time florist may have started smoking the drug again shortly before her death in the hope of becoming well.

But cleaners at her parents home found her dead on February 21 this year.

Dr Maughan added: “I am very concerned about our lack of psychological provision and, unfortunately, we haven’t been successful in getting funds for more psychologists, so the waiting list remains a year.”

But he said it was ‘speculative’ whether Ms Kaye receiving intensive therapy would have helped her in time, as it can take months for patients to improve. Ms Kaye was considered at low risk of suicide at her previous assessment.

Ms Kaye’s mum Caroline, from Henley-on-Thames, described her daughter as a ‘talented artist’, who was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Wokingham, Berkshire.

“I am not sure if I should say this... It is to do with balance of the medication she was on, so the response was there might have been a relapse if she is given too much of the antidepressant drugs. However, in light of this case, she may well have been alive if she got more of the antidepressants,” she said.

“The other point is, she never actually got the chance to experience or get help from cognitive behavioural therapy, so it is all subjective as to how much it would have helped. She never got the chance.”

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust had provided a ‘reasonable level of care’ for Ms Kaye, the court in Oxford heard, but reviews are now in place.

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