Sunday 25 February 2018

Girl attempted suicide after Tusla sent her home without assessment

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A troubled teenage girl went on to attempt suicide after being released from a secure detention centre, despite repeated requests from her mother that she undergo a psychiatric assessment.

The High Court heard that Tusla, the child and family agency, had decided the teenager was ready to be discharged directly home - even though key arrangements were not in place to support her.

The court heard that there was no funding in place for items needed for the home, no external worker had been allocated and her social worker was leaving her role.

At one point in the case, details of which were reported by the Child Care Law Reporting Project, a High Court judge remarked that the failure to provide a psychiatrist was "simply not good enough".

During the teenager's nine-month stay in secure detention, which began in mid-2016, she actively self-harmed.

The High Court heard that within five months her behaviour had deteriorated significantly.

Yet no psychiatric assessment was carried out in terms of a formal diagnosis and no onward placement was identified for her.

Her mother repeatedly asked for such an assessment as her daughter had spoken of suicide.

The teenager herself asked to speak to someone in Pieta House, which provides treatment programmes for people with suicidal ideation.


Within two weeks of her discharge home there was a "serious incident of self-harm". Still no psychiatrist was in place.

Two weeks later there was a further serious act of self-harm and the teenager was admitted to hospital.

After her discharge she threatened to throw herself out of a window.

Gardaí had to be called to help and she was readmitted to hospital.

The High Court ordered that she be returned to secure care, with the proviso she be immediately assessed by a psychiatrist.

Irish Independent

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