Suicidal man killed himself after ‘medics told him to pull himself together’

A suicidal man who was twice rejected by a psychiatric unit took his own life days after being told by medics to go home and take his dog for a walk, his family claimed.

The family of David Ramsay, 50, are campaigning for a public inquiry into his death, saying he was abandoned by the health service during a psychotic episode.

His furious niece said he was told to ‘pull himself together’.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was yesterday confronted in the Scottish Parliament about the tragedy, which happened in 2016, the Daily Record reports.

David’s niece, Gillian Murray, 28, said at a press conference: “Even though he thought that zombies were coming in to get us and I was hypnotised by the dog, he was told to ‘pull himself together’ and go and do ‘normal things’ like walk the dog.

“Well, he did, because he hung himself with the dog lead.

“That was the only advice that he got. We were given no advice, we were given no help, we were off work so we were having to play nurses and psychiatrists.

“So I’m having to Google on my phone how to care for a suicidal individual, how to care for somebody with psychosis.

“We were begging for help, David was asking for help. They shut the door on us and they are shutting the door on so many and I won’t stop until we have got a public inquiry.

"Nicola Sturgeon can bury her head in the sand just now but I will keep fighting because one more suicide is too many in Dundee.”

Earlier in Parliament, Leonard highlighted that Scotland’s suicide rate is more than twice as high as the rate for Britain as a whole, while in Dundee, the rates have increased by 61 per cent in a year.

David’s family say he was let down by NHS Tayside, and were at Holyrood yesterday to watch Labour leader Richard Leonard confront Ms Sturgeon over the tragedy.

He said: “Tragically, David’s story and the experience of his family is not unique in Dundee.

“So, when I was in Dundee in March, I backed the call by families for a public inquiry into mental health services at NHS Tayside.

“First Minister, why has your Government remained silent on this crisis and silent on this demand for a public inquiry?”

Referring to the presence of Gillian and David’s father, also David, in the public gallery, Leonard added: “This is yet another family failed by your Government.

“So, First Minister, how many more families must be failed? How many families need to suffer before you finally recognise that now is the time for change?”

Sturgeon said her “deep condolences” went out to David’s family and that the Government had been in contact with them.

She added that while one suicide was one too many, a five-year rolling average showed suicides on a downward trend in Scotland. On Carseview, she said: “I don’t think it is right or fair to say that the Government has remained silent.”

Sturgeon said Health Secretary Shona Robison, a Dundee MSP, had visited the unit and the Mental Welfare Commission had carried out an unannounced inspection in March and made a number of recommendations.

She said: “Let me be very clear … we expect NHS Tayside to fully respond to those recommendations within three months and they have also, as I understand it, been shared with Healthcare Improvement Scotland. We will pay very close attention to NHS Tayside’s response and if there is further action that we consider is required, then that action will be taken.”

But Gillian was unimpressed by Sturgeon’s response and disputed her claim the Government had been in touch with the family.

She said: “Absolutely nothing was answered. My grandad, at 80, has been treated like dirt. This isn’t just a handful of cases.

“These are preventable deaths. I completely understand that not every suicide is preventable but when, for our case, when somebody is repeatedly asking for help, that’s not someone wanting to take their life.

“The statement from Nicola Sturgeon in there is complete lies. I have not had a response to anything.

“I’ve not had a response directly from the First Minister or from Maureen Watt, the minister for mental health, nor Shona Robison.”

Gillian also revealed she had been a member of the SNP for several years but quit the party in disgust at how the Government had handled her uncle’s situation. David was also an SNP member prior to his death.

Gillian said: “That’s the irony. David paid into a party and they won’t even help him when he’s dead.

“Me and my uncle went to the roadshow to see Nicola in Dundee. I used to travel up to women’s conferences.

“Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be sitting here with support from Labour and Willie Rennie who has been an advocate of mental health, and we are shunned by the SNP. Obviously I’ve cancelled my membership now”

Gillian also called for Robison’s resignation. She said: “I think she has to. There’s no doubt about that.

“She knew about the corporate governance scandal at NHS Tayside for many years. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the mismanagement of funds and patient care at NHS Tayside is deteriorating.

“Many bereaved families will tell you that something needs to change, and quickly, because it could be anyone. It could be your son, your brother, your dad. We didn’t ever think it would happen to us but it did.”

The exchanges cap a miserable few weeks for Robison, who has faced repeated demands for her resignation amid multiples controversies over NHS failures.

Asked about David, an NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “As this is a legal matter, we are unable to comment. Every suicide is a tragedy and we offer our condolences to the family.”

* Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

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