Family forced to restrain suicidal son in home due to lack of services

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A family in Wexford town say they are being forced to physically restrain their 27-year-old son at home to prevent him attempting suicide for a third time, because the HSE claim he is not in need of acute psychiatric care.

The man’s brother claims that he poses a serious danger to himself and others because he is in a very distressed state. His 62-year-old mother has been forced to prevent him from leaving the house.

He is addicted to heroin and became homeless recently. During recent days he has punched his mother in the ribs and bit another brother, who had to go to A&E for a tetanus shot because of his use of needles.

At one point over the bank holiday weekend he managed to leave the house without his mother realising and robbed a business to get cash to buy drugs.

Gardaí are investigating the incident. The brother of the man said he feels “completely let down by the services in the south east”.

He described situations where his brother has tried to hang himself: “We have had the most awful few days. It’s really bad that there is no where that we can go to get help for him.”

He continued: “We’ve been told that he needs to be sectioned under the mental health act, but we can’t get him in there. He’s six foot four and my 62-year-old mother is trying to restrain him herself.”

After the most recent attempt on Saturday night he took his brother to the out-of-hours GP service, Caredoc, where he was told to take him to Wexford General Hospital. He was subsequently sent to Waterford University Hospital.

However, the family claim that after waiting until 5am he was discharged after being assessed by a psychiatric nurse: “We were told to take him home and that he was being referred to Summerhill.”

However. when he contacted the community-based mental health service in Wexford, staff there informed him that they had not received any referral and so he could not be treated as a patient at the centre.

“We’re going out of our minds. Something has to be done,” said his brother.

The family say because he was willing to be admitted voluntarily his case was not given priority, but had he refused to go and been brought by Garda escort he would have been more likely to have been given a bed.

“I understand they can’t take everyone in, but there are serious cracks in the system. My mother can’t look after him on her own,” said the man who runs a business in another county and is trying to travel back and forth to Wexford to help care for him and take charge of his medication for fear he will overpower his mother and take all of the tablets at once.

“We’ve been given a prescription for Valium to treat his anxiety since his suicide attempts and I’ve to manage giving him it every day, because if he could get his hands on it he’d take the whole lot. But I’m not a doctor. I can’t be administering his drugs. He needs to be in an environment where he can’t hurt himself or anyone else,” he said.

The HSE were contacted yesterday morning but had not commented by the time of going to print.

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