Family begged for help days before mum's fatal overdose
Published 15/06/2011 | 05:00
THE family of a young mother who died from an overdose of prescription drugs pleaded with mental health services to help her just days before she died.
Andrea Proctor (31) died on July 23 last year after taking an overdose of medication she was prescribed.
She was found collapsed on the floor at her home at Marrow House, Myrtle Avenue, Baldoyle, north Dublin, on the morning of July 21 and died in hospital two days later from liver failure and an internal haemorrhage.
Ms Proctor had been mentally ill for eight months following the death of her father in November 2009. She had taken a previous overdose in March and suffered from emotional instability.
Just days before her daughter's death, Yvonne Byrne called her daughter's social workers and doctors pleading for help.
"We were a family in crisis. I begged for help. 'What is going on?' I said. 'No one is helping my girl.'
"I was told these things take time. My daughter ran out of time," Mrs Byrne told a coroner's inquest into Ms Proctor's death yesterday.
She said the whole of the health service failed her daughter, who was mother to two boys and a girl aged, 11, 7, and 2.
She described her daughter as "a beautiful, stunning person and a wonderful mum".
She said the lack of communication between the health service agencies, the lack of family involvement with her daughter's doctors and the non-availability of emergency social services all contributed to her daughter taking the overdose.
"Everybody collectively let her down, it was a collective group of errors. We pray and hope that other cases like Andrea's won't slip through the cracks."
Before her illness Ms Proctor was a civil servant and worked in Garda stations all over Dublin. A guard of honour was present at her funeral. Len Avery, Ms Proctor's mental health social worker from St Francis Day Hospital, Dublin, said in hindsight Ms Proctor's follow-up care outside of regular therapy sessions could have been more enhanced but added "there is a problem with resources that has to be mentioned".
The HSE said it accepted in full the findings of the coroner and offered its deepest sympathy to the family of Ms Proctor.
However, it said for reasons of patient/client confidentiality it would not comment on individual cases.
"If a family has concerns about the care or treatment their family member received in St Ita's, Portrane, we would encourage them to contact the hospital directly where their concerns will be addressed," a spokesperson said.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell recorded an open verdict on Ms Proctor's death.
Although he said Ms Proctor's death was self-inflicted, he could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether Ms Proctor intended to take her own life that night. He said he would write to the agencies who worked with Ms Proctor and the HSE to raise issues of concern and to review the circumstances of Ms Proctor's death.