herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

We should have been let stay in hospital with our son - tragic teen's parents

John and Elaine with a picture of their son Dan who tragically died by suicide (INM)
John and Elaine with a picture of their son Dan who tragically died by suicide (INM)
Dan Hogan

The family of a talented young man who took his life said they should have been allowed stay with him in hospital as "one treatment plan does not fit all".

Dan Hogan (17) was outgoing, bright and loving.

He was popular, academically successful and had a promising future on the rugby pitch.

But he was crippled by depression and anxiety.

From their Donnybrook home, surrounded by photographs and memories, John Hogan and Elaine Clear, and Dan's brother Rory, painted a picture of his life.

"He was a good-looking, six-foot tall kind, gorgeous, friendly and caring guy. Many of his friends were shocked when they found out he suffered," said Elaine.

"Dan had dyslexia and ADHD as a child. But he was bright and he did well in exams. It was when he went into first year that the anger and frustration started coming through.

"When he was 12 or 13 he told me one night. 'I have something to tell you. I tried to kill myself last night'. We don't think he did, but it was a cry for help."

"We got him treatment in the Lucena Clinic, but it was like he didn't want to accept his illness. He saw himself as different to the others in the clinic.

Captain

"Then after transition year he moved to St Mary's in Rathmines. He was elected class captain in fifth year and got on to the senior schools team."

But Dan's illness was still there, lurking in the background. He also started hearing voices. John said that in May 2014 Dan told them he needed help again.

"He was prepared to do whatever it took. You feel powerless as a parent," he said. "Some days you would think you would have turned a corner but then you would find yourself back again.

"It was recommended that we bring Dan to St Joseph's Adolescent Inpatient Unit in Fairview, but Dan had an extreme negative reaction to that.

"He was anxious, afraid and angry, but we looked upon these people as experts, we believed Dan would get better. I signed the form. It was a secure unit. Like a prison but modern. The staff were lovely. But Dan was extremely distressed. We were asked to leave. It was lunchtime, and we went back that evening.

"We feel now that we should have been able to stay. Even for one of us to curl up in the chair in his room to be there for him.

"One treatment plan does not fit all, and we think we should have had the option."

"Dan told me later that if this was the treatment for his illness then he was f**ked," said Elaine.

Dan took his own life three weeks later on July 8 2014.

At the inquest this month, the jury returned a verdict of death by suicide and recommended that an adult family member be permitted to stay with a patient in a psychiatric unit if professionals deem it helpful and if facilities are available.

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