Mother: Teen who took his life traumatised by admission to psychiatric unit

A mother has raised concerns over psychiatric treatment her son received before taking his own life aged 17.

Daniel (Dan) Hogan was found on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Donnybrook on July 8, 2014, just hours after he was assessed by a psychiatrist.

The teen, who loved rugby, had attended St Joseph’s adolescent inpatient unit in Fairview as an involuntary patient in the weeks prior to his death. At an inquest into his death, his mother claimed he was traumatised by this experience and said it contributed to his death.

“We’ve lost Dan, Dan is gone. He was ill. I’m thinking of other kids in other situations now and I’m prepared to stick my neck out for other kids,” his mother, Elaine Clear, said at Dublin Coroner’s Court.

She said she and Dan’s father were asked to leave the facility and their son was left alone after his admission. “We were told to leave, he was in effect put into solitary confinement. I think the trauma incurred then contributed to his [later] actions,” said Ms Clear.

The inquest heard Dan had a history of problems experiencing low mood and distress through his teens, having been diagnosed initially with ADHD in 2010.

In 2011 he experienced an “episode of significant distress”, and was admitted to hospital and prescribed a low dose of anti-psychotic medication, risperidone.

He deteriorated again after his Junior Certificate and was prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac) as he began transition year, which “was a very positive” year for him, the court heard.

Dan became low again as he was due to begin fifth year, psychiatrist Dr Blánaid Gavin of the Lucena Clinic told the court.

In early 2014, Dan was taking the antidepressant fluoxetine and risperidone but his condition “appeared to worsen”, according to Dr Gavin. He began to experience suicidal thoughts and was referred to St Joseph’s unit in Fairview by the Lucena Clinic. Discharged on June 23, 2014, he remained “quite low in himself” and an increased dose of fluoxetine was prescribed.

On July 7, 2014, the day before he was found dead, Dan appeared in good form and spoke about plans for the summer, Dr Gavin said.

“He said he felt he’d been able to make sense of things and develop a more positive attitude,” she said. Dan’s body was found by a gardener on the grounds of the Royal Hospital the next day.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest until March 22 to allow for a representative of St Joseph’s unit answer the concerns raised by Ms Clear. The family thanked gardaí and Dr Gavin for their support.

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