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‘There was no help for my brother’

By Staff Reporter

A North Belfast woman has criticised the PSNI and the NHS following the publication of a report into her brother’s suicide.

Julie Magee has said the police handling of her brother’s case was unacceptable and that the NHS failed to provide him with the help he needed.

Jonathan Magee, who had a history of mental illness, and was an outpatient at the Mater Hospital, took his own life on 29 January 2011. The previous day the Graymount man had contacted the police to tell them that he had attempted to take his own life.

Jonathan, who had suffered from both alcohol and drug addictions, had a care plan put in place in 2009 due to his mental health issues. Around the time of his death he had been desperately seeking medical attention and had attended no fewer than four different health facilities. Despite this he was able to walk out of two hospitals before eventually taking his own life.

Eight police officers have been disciplined following the publication of the Police Ombudsman’s report into Jonathan’s death. The PSNI has also issued an unreserved apology to the family.

Julie, however, doesn’t think this goes far enough; “It’ll be four years in January since he died and they’re only apologising now after this report has been released. It feels like they’re only apologising at all because they have to.

“And saying people have been disciplined, that’s not enough. No one has been sacked over this and to me that’s unacceptable. My brother was crying out for help and there were so many opportunities to get him that help, but they didn’t. Someone should have lost their job.”

In his report, Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire condemned the police investigation into Jonathan’s whereabouts prior to his suicide as ‘inadequate’. According to Dr Maguire, despite police having guidance in place for such an investigation, this guidance was ‘not fully followed or completely ignored’. He condemned the investigation as having been ‘only intermittently focused and lacking any consistent or sustained supervision or oversight’.

He said; “The fact that it took police approximately seven hours, after Jonathan had been described as ‘high risk and suicidal’, to commence a formal missing person investigation is not acceptable.

“Furthermore, despite Jonathan being assessed as ‘high risk’ at that time, the subsequent police investigation did not reflect this.

“The decision to ignore the ‘high risk’ assessment following phone contact with him was a mistake. As a result, minimal inquiries were conducted into Jonathan’s whereabouts in the last few hours of his life.”

Julie said the handling of her brother’s death has had an adverse effect on her own mental health and on her two sons. “The way it’s affected me and my two sons, it’s put us under so much strain. Doctors and the police told us if we needed anything they’d be there for us, but no one has been. How could we ever trust them after what happened to Jonathan? People say there’s help out there, but there was no help for my brother.”



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