A recovering alcoholic who killed himself a week after being told to start drinking again was ‘let down by the NHS’.
Stephen Appleton had gone to his GP after going cold turkey for days, asking for help.
But he was told it was too dangerous for him to quit completely, and that he should resume drinking six pints a day and taper gradually.
An inquest concluded Mr Appleton, 51, didn’t get the help he was entitled to before he killed himself by hanging.
His partner Sandra Smith said: ‘Stephen was let down by our local mental health service. He was depressed and anxious but sought help. However, after weeks of seeking help I believe he gave up hope when that help could not be found.’
Berkshire assistant coroner Alison McCormick told the inquest that although finance expert Stephen was in contact with mental health and alcohol dependency services in the months before his death, he was not provided with counselling or detoxification.
‘My concern remains that patients who are assessed at low risk of suicide or self harm will have no review or support during that time they are waiting for counselling. During that period of time their risk may increase and if it did, nobody would know,’ she said.
Ms McCormick commented that Stephen was not seen face-to-face by anyone in the mental health team over the months that he was seeking help.
Deemed to be a low risk, he had meetings with Talking Therapies but he was told he would have to wait eight to 10 weeks for counselling. He died whilst waiting for these treatments, the coroner observed.
His partner Ms Smith said later: ‘Whilst Stephen was ill we sought help for him from his GP and from Berkshire mental health services. Despite repeated cries for help, he was only assessed over the phone and never seen by a qualified mental health professional face to face. We were passed from one person to the next.’
The inquest had heard earlier that Mr Appleton was a successful investment professional before being made redundant and making a career change to counselling people going through bankruptcy.
The coroner ruled that Mr Appleton, from Bolton Road, Windsor, Berkshire, died as a result of suicide while suffering from mental illness and alcohol dependence.
Ms Smith, said: ‘His symptoms started only about a year before his death.
‘Before that he was full of life. He was loved by his family and friends and we loved him. He was charismatic, social and had a ‘just do it’ attitude. He loved travel and adventure – he raced cars and climbed mountains in Pakistan and South America. He ran marathons, enjoyed skiing and surfing.
‘Whilst Stephen was ill we sought help for him from his GP and from Berkshire mental health services. Despite repeated cries for help he was never provided with the help he needed which I believe could have saved his life.’
“The coroner made a Preventing Future Deaths Report with regards to the lack of support for patients like Stephen who have been recommended for treatment but have to wait to receive it.
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