The family of a teenager who tragically killed herself in a secure mental health unit say more could have been done to save her.
Jodie Turton, who battled with depression and anorexia throughout her teenage years, was found unconscious in a bathroom just after telling her mum she felt ‘very distressed’.
The 19-year-old straight A student died the following day on December 12 from asphyxiation after taking her own life at ‘Alpha’ in Bury, Lancashire, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Just a month earlier Jodie, from Stockport – whose organ donations have helped save four lives – had posted on Facebook: “This is the best I’ve felt for seven years”.
Despite her illness, she excelled academically, described by teachers at Harry Town Catholic High School as the ‘most talented mathematician they had taught’.
Her father, Paul Turton, told the Heywood inquest Jodie should have been more closely observed and had more psychiatric help.
He said: “Given the significant history we thought staff would have recognised what the medical issues were…that she would have been watched 24 hours a day.
“She needed help there and then, not in eight months’ time, immediately. This was a person’s life.”
Jodie had been transferred from an eating disorder clinic in Ealing just three weeks earlier after self-harming and setting fire to her bed.
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The family, Mr Turton said, was initially shocked by the ‘prison-like’ appearance of the Bury unit – but they put their faith in the staff.
He insisted Jodie, who complained of ‘nobody talking to her’, had not been seen by a psychiatrist.
Jodie’s grandfather told the inquest he’d been informed during a visit that the resident psychiatrist had left the post and would not be replaced ‘until January’.
However, David Morris, barrister for Cygnet Health Care, which runs the unit, insisted a locum had been available to Jodie.
The inquest heard that staff in Bury had been briefed on Jodie’s history.
However, Samantha Lee, the mental health nurse assigned to Jodie, admitted she had not asked a key question about the method used in Jodie’s earlier suicide attempts.
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This meant it was not a part of her risk assessment, which was also missing an incident in which Jodie became aggressive to staff and was sedated.
She described Jodie as ‘anxious that things were not moving as fast as she wanted’ but said she was building a rapport with staff and patients.
She accepted there was no care plan to deal with her depression.
Growing up in Stockport, popular Jodie shone academically but it was during secondary school that her depression – described by her father as a ‘cruel illness’ – began, and she started to suffer from ‘dark thoughts’, self-harm and anorexia. She first attempted to take her own life aged 14. Despite her mental health issues, she got 10 As and two A*s at GCSE.
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But she was unable to complete her A’levels or hold down a job at an accountancy firm. She moved into sheltered accommodation and volunteered with the Prince’s Trust while also running a blog. She was frequently admitted to hospital for long and short stays but always enjoyed visits home and from her family.
Holding back tears, Jodie’s dad Paul Turton told the inquest: “We will remember Jodie as a lovely, thoughtful, creative, adventurous and highly intelligent young lady who will be missed by everyone who knew her.
“Jody struggled to explain why she felt the way she did about her body and state of mind. We are not medical experts but we always felt something was missing from Jodie’s treatment.”