'Harrowing' evidence as inquest hears Kerry man died by suicide shortly after hospital discharge

The widow of a man who died by suicide has criticised the HSE for not sending a representative to his inquest after a previous hearing revealed that he died less than 24 hours after he was discharged from a hospital A&E following an attempt to end his life.

File photo of Sandra Russell showing off her medal and engagement ring with her then-boyfriend John Broderick after he had proposed to her after both had completed the Cork City Marathon. Picture Des Barry

John Broderick (35) of Reaun, Currow, Killarney, Co Kerry, was assessed by a psychiatrist at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) on August 27, 2018, having presented following an attempt to end his life.

Update 6pm: In a statement, the HSE said: "Whenever we are asked to assist the coroner’s court and inquest process, we do so to the best of our ability.

"In this case, we were asked to submit a report and did so. We were not asked to attend the inquest or advised of the inquest date."

Earlier: An inquest in Mallow, Co Cork, heard that Mr Broderick was deemed well enough to leave UHK's emergency department and return to work. This was in spite of scoring zero in a test where zero is sad and ten is happy. He died by suicide the following day.

Coroner for North Cork, Dr Michael Kennedy, had adjourned the inquest last year in order to obtain the anti-bullying policy of Mr Broderick's employer amid allegations that he had endured bullying at the hand of a named individual.

A full hearing was also postponed in order to receive follow up information on a psychiatric report filed following Mr Broderick's presentation to hospital the day before his death.

At a hearing in Mallow District Court today, Dr Kennedy read out a submitted report from UHK which revealed that Mr Broderick was assessed as having had a passive death wish with no suicidal plan. He told doctors he did not wish to be to admitted to hospital and he expressed a desire to return to work the following day.

The inquest was told that all steps were taken by the hospital to manage his care. The inquest was told the patient didn't meet the criteria for an urgent admission to hospital under the Provisions of the Mental Health Act.

UHK said it was possible that Mr Broderick did not make full disclosures about his condition on admission. They stressed the support of the crisis team was given to him and that the crisis nurse contacted him at 11am on August 28, 2018. However, Dr Kennedy was told that Mr Broderick had died by suicide two hours earlier.

Eimear Griffin, solicitor representing Sandra Broderick, said she was disappointed (that there was no HSE representative at) the inquest.

Sandra Broderick, wife of John, at his inquest in Mallow. Photo: Provision

"I am completely disappointed that there is no representative of the HSE here today. Mrs Broderick's motivation in this is that (cases like this) would be prevented in the future."

Ms Griffin accused the HSE of "airbrushing" the case. She stated that the motivation of her client was to prevent other families from suffering.

Meanwhile, the inquest also heard a statement from Munster Joinery, where Mr Broderick had been employed. The Coroner had written to the company to request their policy on bullying after Mr Broderick's widow had claimed at a previous hearing that he had suffered tremendously at work.

Sandra Broderick testified that her husband was bullied by an individual at Munster Joinery in Co Cork and that the alleged incident involved "mind games" and being "shouted and roared at" in front of his fellow employees. She said her husband had pleaded with the person to "give him a break."

Mrs Broderick said that John had "good and bad days".

John Broderick

"He could go to work really happy but could come home crying. Sundays were always a tough day because he knew he'd have to go back to Munster Joinery.

"For most of Sunday, he would be okay but when Sunday evening came he would get really withdrawn and fall asleep on the couch so he wouldn't have to think about it.

"John was bullied and he had been since he started there. He tried to deal with it his own way."

She said her husband had approached the person allegedly carrying out the bullying and it had stopped only to resume a week later.

Sandra said that the man was "pulling strings" and John was the "puppet".

Mrs Broderick said that her late husband told her that he preferred to be busy rather than waiting at home looking for another job. He was "putting up with it" until he found something else.

Mr Broderick died by suicide on August 28, 2018, after going to work at the construction supplies firm.

Munster Joinery said in a statement that they had never received an allegation of bullying or mistreatment towards John Broderick. They stated that a Critical Incident Centre was set up for staff after the death and that counselling had been made available.

The inquest heard that the company had a policy on bullying in place which was maintained. Dr Kennedy was also told that Mr Broderick was not directly employed by the firm but was instead a subcontractor.

Dr Kennedy said the evidence of Mrs Broderick was very harrowing. He offered his condolences to her and her daughter Grace saying that she had done everything she could to help John. He added that the death was "traumatic" and "very raw". A verdict of death by suicide was recorded.

Following the death of her husband, Mrs Broderick organised a fundraiser in his memory to raise funds for Pieta House. It raised over €14,000.

In a tribute online, Mrs Broderick she said that she had "unbelievably happy memories of John" and that she never knew true happiness until he came into her life.

Mr Broderick is survived by his wife Sandra, their daughter Grace, and his parents and siblings.

At his funeral donations were made to Pieta House in lieu of flowers.

John and Sandra hit the headlines in 2011 when he proposed to her at the finish line of the Cork City marathon. He ran the marathon carrying an engagement ring he had bought in America.

He crossed the finish line a few minutes before Sandra. It was her first marathon so he decided to make it extra special by proposing to her. At the time papers dubbed him the "most romantic man in Ireland."

    If you or someone you know has been affected by mental health issues you can contact:

  • Samaritans - 116 123, text 087 2609090 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm) - 1800 247 247 or 01 623 5606
  • Aware (Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder & Anxiety) - 1800 80 48 48
  • Grow (Mental Health support & Recovery) - 1890 474 474
  • Bodywhys (Eating Disorders Associations of Ireland) - 1890 200 444
  • Childline (for under 18s) - 1800 66 66 66

This story was updated at 6pm with a statement from the HSE.

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