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Woman hanged herself days after hospital discharge

13:00 26 June 2012


A 31-YEAR-OLD hung herself just days after mental health experts released her from hospital saying she was a low suicide risk.

Bonnie Styles, who had a history of self harm and depression, was found dead at her Lower Church Road home by a neighbour six days after being released from Weston General Hospital following an attempted overdose.

An inquest into her death at Flax Bourton Coroners Court heard last week how Miss Styles was admitted to the accident and emergency department on March 31 last year after taking an overdose of prescription medicines.

Police had to force themselves into her top floor flat after she phoned her mother, Caroline Bruiguier, and said ‘don’t worry about me any more, I’m going away’ before barricading herself into her home and taking the pills.

She left suicide notes for friends and family, but was still semi-conscious when she was found.

Once at the hospital Miss Styles discharged herself against medical guidance, but as an accident and emergency consultant considered her a high risk to herself she was detained by police under the Mental Health Act and taken back again.

However, she was released into the care of the hospital.

The following morning mental health nurses working for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust at the Uphill hospital, Terry Mahon and Rob McLaughlin, were asked to assess Miss Styles and considered her a low repeat suicide risk.

They were satisfied that she could wait for further guidance until she attended a North Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service appointment in the Boulevard, Weston, the following week.

They say they made her aware of ways she could get extra help in the meantime if she needed it.

Just six days later Miss Styles hung herself in the stairwell of her home, once again leaving suicide notes for friends and family.

The court heard on Tuesday how the former heroin addict had cut herself on her arms and wrists multiple times in the days between being released from hospital and her death, using a sharp blade on some occasions.

Miss Styles’ mother says her daughter was ‘angry’ and turned up at her home shouting and swearing when she was released following her assessment.

But Mr Mahon told the court: “She had some ideas of where she wanted to go and the future.

“We thought the risk of suicide was low at that time. When she left she was quite composed and did not appear agitated.”

Mr McLaughlin, who said he and his colleague carried out a thorough assessment, added: “On the day we saw her she was much calmer.

“We knew she had an appointment coming up in the Boulevard and she was much more rational.”

Friends and family described through written evidence at the hearing on Tuesday how Miss Styles had become ‘paranoid’ in the days leading to her death and thought people were trying to harm her and steal her money.

Dr Forshall, a psychiatrist for the North Somerset Drug And Alcohol Service, said he felt the nurses who considered Miss Styles a low repeat suicide risk made an ‘appropriate judgement’ and measured response on the basis of the evidence they had.

He had seen Miss Styles a number of times and the court heard how she had a long history of depression and drug dependency.

She was described by ex-boyfriend Richard Baker as ‘a laugh’ and ‘clever’, but her mother explained during the inquest how her daughter had suffered with anger problems and mood swings.

Avon coroner Maria Voisin gave a verdict of suicide and said Miss Styles has taken her own life ‘while the balance of her mind was disturbed’.

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