North Wootton: Inquiry follows fatal overdose

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LESSONS have been learned from the suicide of a severely mentally ill woman who took an overdose of her prescribed medication, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mandy Reed, 50, was found dead at her home in Priory Road, North Wootton, on June 25 last year, the day after she was assessed by health professionals as being at low risk of committing suicide.

Greater Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said a different picture emerged from her son and his girlfriend, who lived with Mrs Reed.

They described her as “lovely and caring”, but said she was showing signs of worsening paranoia, including feelings that she was being watched and persecuted.

Mr Armstrong said: “It is quite clear that all this was going on inside her head.”

Mrs Reed was found lying on the floor beside her bed showing no signs of life and efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.

The inquest heard she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression and a post-mortem examination showed she died from an overdose of her prescribed medication. Mr Armstrong said the overdose was “very substantial” and she left a note on her bed.

Recording a verdict that she committed suicide while suffering from a severe mental disorder, he said: “I have no doubt at all that she died as a result of severe mental illness, the severity of which had sadly not been recognised.”

The inquest, held at Lynn County Court, heard Mrs Reed’s GP referred her to the community mental health team on June 2.

It was unclear why her case was not discussed until June 16 and she was not visited until June 24.

“Hopefully in future when a GP refers a patient with serious mental health problems there will be more speedy action,” said Mr Armstrong.

A social worker and psychiatric nurse who visited Mrs Reed said they found her “calm” and “open” with only “fleeting” thoughts of suicide. She apeared to be making plans for the future and had good family support and they believed the threat had dissipated.

Mr Armstrong described the assessment as “less than complete and deficient in certain areas”.

A root cause analysis of what happened had been carried out as a result of Mrs Reed’s death. He said: “I am confident from what has been said at the inquest that important lessons have been learned from this tragedy.”