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Friday 20 September 2019

'System failed my Shane by turning him away' - Mother of suicide victim

Shane Rock with his sister Shauna and mother Majella
Shane Rock with his sister Shauna and mother Majella

A heartbroken mum whose son died by suicide just days after he was turned away from hospital believes he would still be alive today if better services were in place.

The body of Shane Rock (24) was found in an area of scrubland in Duleek, Co Meath, six days after he went missing on August 4, 2017.

The popular young man, who had stopped taking his medication for psychosis for a number of weeks, had begged his mum Majella O'Dwyer to help him shortly before he killed himself.

Majella, who lives in Swords, Co Dublin, said Shane was turned away from the psychiatric unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda just two days before he went missing.

Crying

"When Shane was 15 he started crying uncontrollably one day. It was like someone flicked a switch in his head," she said.

"He was eventually diagnosed with psychosis after he contemplated jumping off a bridge at that age and was put on medication.

"When he was doing good, he was the loveliest chap who would stop and chat to anyone, especially about football and his dogs.

"He was doing great and had just got a diploma as a carer. Unfortunately, he stopped taking his medicine for a while and there was no talking to him.

"I tried to get him help in Swords and he was offered day care but he wouldn't turn up and they referred him to Drogheda. Eventually, he realised that he did need help.

"At this time he was living with my sister in Duleek and we brought him to the psychiatric unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital but they just told him to take his medication, go home and not to go out.

"He started taking the medication but it takes six weeks to build up levels in his system to work properly."

Just two days later Shane walked out of his aunt's home and his disappearance sparked a massive search in the area, which ended six days later when his body was found on scrubland at the Steeples, Duleek.

"He met the postman at the door, took the post back in and that was the last time he was seen alive," said Majella.

"I believe Shane would be alive today if he hadn't been turned away from the hospital. The system failed him.

"I don't blame the hospital staff - they are seriously under-resourced and have to work with a shortage of beds. I blame the Government for not having the adequate resources or services needed for mental health in place.

"That's the problem with mental health illness. People are being turned away because they haven't got anything physically wrong with them.

"I would say to any parent whose child has mental health issues and is turned away from hospital, don't leave.

"Stay put and fight your case for as long as it takes to get help for your loved one. There are too many young people dying unnecessarily."

Duleek councillor Sharon Keogan said: "The Government need to put more resources in place for mental health issues, especially at a young age."

Sorry

In a statement, the HSE said: "We're sorry to hear about Majella's loss. Louth-Meath mental health service have an admission policy and do not comment on individual cases.

"People present to either A&E or their GP and are subsequently referred to the appropriate service where the doctor on duty will assess and if required a relevant treatment plan is put in place."

Majella, her family and Shane's friends released balloons at his graveside on Tuesday - World Suicide Prevention Day - on what would have been his 27th birthday.

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