Woman sought help before killing herself

A woman twice asked for help at mental health centres in the two weeks before she took her own life.

A two-day inquest into the death of mother-of-two Patricia Brace, who hanged herself on March 22 last year, heard she had twice been referred by GPs to the Elmleigh mental health hospital, Havant, in the 13 days before her death.

She had also presented herself at the Parkway mental health centre in Havant before she ended her life at home in Park Lane, Cowplain.

The 64-year-old had suffered chronic clinical depression since her late teens and had attempted suicide once before, in 1992.

On March 9 and 10 last year, Mrs Brace told psychiatric staff at the Hampshire Partnership Trust-owned centres she wanted to end her life.

On March 19 she had saved tablets prescribed for her depression and planned to commit suicide by taking an overdose.

She also presented a 'mood diary' to staff. One entry read: 'I think I have enough pills now. Please Lord, just take me. I can't go on like this.'

But staff believed they had dissuaded her and concluded admission to hospital was not appropriate.

Susan Adeyemo, modern matron at Elmleigh, said: 'The staff who saw Mrs Brace at Elmleigh both spent an hour with her and although she arrived in quite a distressed state and threatened to commit suicide, on both occasions she calmed down after speaking to medical staff and said she would not take her own life because of her partner, sons and dog and the effect it would have on them.

'On the second occasion, we did put her on to our home treatment register and we tried to arrange to meet her at her home on Friday, March 21. She said she wouldn't be able to do that, so we rearranged for the next evening, Saturday, March 22.'

However, just hours before her home visit was due to take place, Mrs Brace hanged herself from the entrance to her loft.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner David Horsley said: 'She had a long history of depression. She had attempted suicide once and hoped to be admitted for treatment when she told medical staff of her plans to do so again.

'Those threats were considered a cry for help by staff, but what she did on Saturday, March 22 was something different. That time she did not tell anyone what she planned.'

Mrs Brace's sons have written to Hampshire Partnership Trust to outline their concerns about the run-up to their mother's death.

'WE WILL REMEMBER HER FOR THE LIFE SHE LIVED'

Pat Brace's sons Philip, 37, and Matthew, 32, say they will remember their mother for the life she lived, rather than the circumstances in which she died.

The inquest into their mother's death necessarily focused on the 64-year-old's history of depression, especially during her lowest points in the weeks preceding her death.

But Philip said: 'The picture we will carry of our mother is not the view presented of her final days.'

Instead, the brothers will remember a sociable, adventurous woman.

Mrs Brace, born Patricia Hemmings on November 12 1943, was the eldest of three daughters. She worked as a secretary after leaving school.

She married Austen Brace in September 1966, and the couple had two children. Philip was born in May 1971 and Matthew in March 1976.

She looked after the boys and the family home, but also managed the accounts for her husband's engineering business.

After the couple divorced in 1989, she worked at Clanfield Co-op.

After retiring, she worked as a volunteer at Merchistoun Hall, Horndean, and the Rowans Charity Shop in Queen's Parade, Waterlooville.

Philip said: 'She and her partner Tony Clarke enjoyed travelling together.'

Matthew added: 'She liked line dancing, was interested in family history and the protection of animals, and was a member of the World Wide Fund for Nature.'

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