‘Why were we not listened to?’ - Parents of mentally ill man who died after taking cocaine say their voices were not heard
- Credit: Stone family
Parents of a mentally ill man who was found dead with cocaine in his system have said their repeated pleas for help for their son were ignored by the region's mental health trust.
Julian Stone, 43, was found dead at the top of the stairs by his housemate on January 16 this year.
But his mother, Krysia, and father, Rodney, said they had been left 'devastated' as they felt they were not listened to when they begged for support.
An inquest into Julian's death in Norwich yesterday heard how the salesman, who lived in Berners Street, Norwich, had suffered with a number of mental health issues but was only ever officially diagnosed with bipolar.
Area coroner Yvonne Blake concluded Julian died of a drug-related death, and evidence was heard that Julian would self-medicate his conditions with cannabis and cocaine.
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But although Mr and Mrs Stone agreed cocaine had killed Julian, they were convinced he meant to take his own life and 'could have been saved' if their desperate pleas for help had been listened to.
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Stone said her son 'had several incurable, neurological mental health conditions' and 'a long history of suicide attempts and mental illness'.
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Medical records released to the family showed records of phone calls made by Julian's parents to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).
One entry, in January 2015, noted 'several phone calls are logged from Julian's parents to the crisis team noting that Julian has been abusive, demanding and threatening towards them'.
Another from the same month said the crisis team were aware Mr and Mrs Stone said they were becoming ill through the stress of caring for their son and were unable to cope.
The next month, records show Mrs Stone reported Julian was talking about hurting others, not caring about going to prison, and suicide.
Julian did receive visits from the NSFT crisis team and other mental health professionals, who noted he was at risk of suicide, harm to others and substance misuse. And he was admitted to the Denes hospital in Sussex for treatment, where it was noted he had previously planned to take his own life through an overdose,
Mrs Stone said: 'After this he told me he was feeling much better, for the first time in ages he was upbeat and positive.'
But two months later he was moved to Hellesdon Hospital and began to struggle again. Despite this, he was discharged a month later in June 2015.
She said after his discharge Julian's care worker visited him just twice, and called him once, before he was discharged from the service.
Mrs Stone said: 'When Julian was discharged from NSFT he was still ill, with numerous mental health conditions and threatening to kill himself or someone else. I contacted Julian's community psychiatric nurse but the discharge still took place.'
And when she called to speak to the care worker, she was told he had left.
A number of other calls from Mrs Stone to mental health services were recorded, with the final entry in May 2015. Eight months later Julian died.
'As carers, we consider our concerns and constant phone calls were not listened to by NSFT and that an non-medical people without the requisite knowledge, we were not supported to take care of Julian whose conditions were complex,' she said.
'It was obvious he was a danger to himself and other with fatal results.
'We feel according to the Mental Health Act Julian should have been protected and was not safe living in the community, with the result that Julian became one of the 182 unexpected deaths that took place of patients of NSFT last year. We feel frustrated and disappointed that Julian was allowed to die and that he received insufficient treatment from the organisation that was responsible for his care.
'Julian did not get the aftercare from NSFT after he was discharged from the Dene. And Julian should not have been discharged from the services of NSFT on November 27, 2015, because under the Mental Health Act he continued to be a risk to himself and others. Concerns from his family at the time of discharge from NSFT and after discharged were not acted upon - in our opinion with fatal consequences.'
Dr Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and patient safety at NSFT, said: 'We sympathise deeply with the family for their tragic loss and would like to express our sincerest condolences.
'Mr Stone received care commensurate with his needs whilst open to our services and he was appropriately discharged in late 2015.
'However, we are happy to work with the family and listen to their concerns if they feel that there are any outstanding issues relating to his care.'
After concluding the inquest yesterday, area coroner Yvonne Blake also said the trust had written to the family with details on how to get in touch, should they wish to do so.
Mrs Stone said her son was best described as a 'lovable rogue'.
'Everyone loved him, there were nearly 200 people at his funeral,' she said.
'They just adored him, they all went up and laid flowers on his grave.'
She added: 'We're devastated.
'I can't sleep, I adored my son, he was my life and he needed care.
'I feel empty now he's not here, and I can still hear him talking in my ear.
'I tried so hard.'
When Julian was working for Norfolk Windows, Mrs Stone said he had made many friends in the industry.
A statement from Michael Smith, who worked with Julian, was read at yesterday's inquest.
He said: 'He was a great chap and everyone loved to be around him.
'I had a lot of time for Julian, he supported me a lot.
'To this day I still can't believe Julian has passed away, myself and a lot of his mates miss him so much.'