Friday 24 January 2020

Brother of man found dead claims request for psychiatric care was denied due to 'cutbacks' - inquest told

Gareth Naughton

The brother of a man who was found dead in his father’s garden told his inquest that he had pleaded to be admitted to a psychiatric facility following a suicide attempt four days previously but was refused because of “cutbacks”.

Dominic Kiernan (45) from Bolbrook Villas, Tallaght, Dublin 24, was found dead in the front garden of his father’s home at Maplewood Park in Tallaght on June 25 last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that a postmortem carried out by deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis has been unable to establish Mr Kiernan’s cause of death.

He had a long history of mental illness having being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was being treated through Southwest HSE psychiatric services in Tallaght. He was attended regularly by a home care team. 

Tyrone Kiernan told the court that on the previous Friday, June 21, his brother had attempted to slit his wrists and taken an overdose of tablets. He had pleaded to be taken into a permanent facility.

“He said to them that he wanted to go into a permanent facility and they told him that he would not meet the criteria, more or less because of the cutbacks,” he said. 

He was last visited by the home care team on the day before his death. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that a report from the team said that he was “reminded” to attend his GP in relation to his medications. The nurse also dropped into the GP surgery to ask them to reassess Mr Kiernan’s medication because they were worried he was not taking it.

Consultant psychiatrist with the HSE psychiatric services in Tallaght, Dr Veronica O’Keane described him as “chronically unhappy” with “superimposed” episodes of depression and said that he would “seek help on a daily basis”. His case was discussed with the multi-disciplinary team regularly, she told the court. Mr Kiernan had been prescribed a drug for Parkinson’s disease, she said, which alters mood and this may have been a contributor to the general decline in the state of his mood. She said that suicidal ideation was not present in the days prior to his demise. When asked about the attendance at A&E following the June 21 attempt to slit his wrists, Dr O’Keane said that superficial cuts to wrists would be a sign of "distress" and “help seeking”.

Mr Kiernan was found when passersby noticed him lying in the garden of the family home on the morning of June 25. He had been dead for a number of hours. Following concerns regarding bruising on the body, Dr Curtis carried out the post-mortem. He had been due to give evidence but was called away at the last minute. In his post-mortem report, he said that he was unable to establish a cause of death. The prescription medications found in the toxicology screen were at “trace” or “below therapeutic levels” and there was no alcohol present. There were no indications of an assault and no internal injuries. 

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest to September 5 to hear directly from Dr Curtis.

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