A WOMAN found hanging in a Sunderland mental hospital had made previous attempts to strangle herself, an inquest into her death heard.
Troubled Paige Bell was admitted to the East Willows ward at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Ryhope on August 6 after being rescued from Wearmouth Bridge by police.
After being admitted to the ward, the 20-year-old self-harmed twice before becoming the subject of general observation by staff.
At about 4pm on the day she was admitted, a nurse discovered Paige hanging in a bedroom.
Paige died at Sunderland Royal Hospital eight days later after being starved of oxygen to the brain.
On the fifth day of the inquest into her death at Sunderland Coroner’s Court yesterday, Michael Graham, solicitor for the Bell family, told the hearing that Paige had attempted to hang herself a number of times while under the care of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust before she moved from Durham to Sunderland.
“Within the records which were used for Paige’s care there are references to episode of previous self-harm with ligatures relating to hanging,” said Mr Graham.
“They include an episode in 2012 when she put a ligature around her neck using a telephone charger.
“There is also reference in November 2013 to her using dressing gown cord by tying it around her neck.
“On December 1, 2013, she tied ligatures around her neck when staff attempted to leave her.
“And in January 2014 she was found tying wool around her neck.”
The previous attempts at harm were not in Paige’s records at Cherry Knowle as the facility is run by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
Experienced forensic psychiatrist Dr Mary di Lustro, who has written a report on the events leading up Paige’s death, also gave evidence at the hearing.
Dr di Lustro was asked her opinion on the decision by the team caring for Paige at East Willows to downgrade checks on her from eyesight observation to general observation, despite the fact that she had twice cut herself that day.
“As I stated in my report, it’s very easy with the benefit of hindsight,” said Dr di Lustro.
“Within the context of her having self-harmed on two occasions I would not have reduced her observations at that point.
“She had given several indications that she wasn’t able to manage herself responsibly at that time.
“I would not have reduced the observation beyond 15 minutes.
“It’s a very difficult balance to strike and provide an appropriate level of protection.
“This was a woman who only a few hours earlier had been determined to kill herself.
“That should have been taken into account when considering observation.”
Sunderland coroner Derek Winter is expected to sum up the inquest today before the jury is sent out to come to a conclusion.