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Islington Tribune - by CHARLOTTE CHAMBERS
Published: 12 June 2009

Patricia’s sister and Damien’s aunt Sheila Clarke with Mrs McCarron’s daughters and Mr McCarron’s sisters Leah and Lisa outside court
Double suicide pair ‘were failed’

Family of mum and son who took own lives criticise health services at inquest into deaths

THE devastated family of a mother and son who committed suicide within two weeks of each other have criticised the care they received.
Patricia McCarron, 54, and her son Damien McCarron, 28, both died in April last year at their home in the Rahere House tower block in King Square, Finsbury.
Their family this week described them as “inseparable” but said their mental health problems were not taken seriously.
Last night, adult social care chief Councillor Ursula Woolley insisted that Islington’s health and social services worked together effectively but pledged to look into the tragedy and share her findings with the McCarrons’ family.
“Obviously, if there are things we should learn from this then we will,” said Cllr Woolley. “I think [the family] have every right to want to know exactly what happened and we are certainly going to go through our records and the foundation trust are going to do the same.”
At a double inquest into their deaths on Tuesday, St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard how Damien threw himself from his home on the 12th floor just two weeks after finding his mother’s lifeless body in bed.
In a statement given coroner Dr Andrew Reid, his aunt Sheila Clarke said he was a “troubled boy” who “loved his mother very much” and “relied on her too much” but could have been saved with specialist care.
Instead, following his mother’s death from a massive prescription drug overdose, he was sent on an alcohol recovery programme rather than an immediate referral for psychiatric help.
His sister Lisa, 36, had been so worried about him she took him to his GP, Dr Paul Rogers, of the Amwell Practice in Finsbury, just days before his death.
Recalling a telephone call she made to Dr Rogers the day before her brother’s death, Lisa told the court: “What I was upset about was I had called Dr Rogers on Wednesday and said I really feel he needs something a bit more immediate than just the ARP [Alcohol Recovery Project]. I was clear I was worried but he said there’s nothing he can do until he’s been to the ARP. He killed himself that night.”
Damien’s family believe he should have been detained under the Mental Health Act.
Responding in court to family concerns, Dr Rogers said: “I would like to offer my sincere condolences. It’s been a very sad and traumatic case – for you I can’t imagine how bad it must have been. We’re taking it very seriously.”
Ms Clarke said the family had been left “shocked” by the double tragedy and were “very much missing” their loved ones.
She described how her sister, who suffered from schizophrenia, grew increasingly depressed after her hips were replaced due to arthritis.
“I’m not sure that anything could have been done to help my sister, but by the time help was offered it was too late,” added Ms Clarke.
Lisa McCarron claimed phone calls to social services about her mother were deflected and she was passed between them and her GP.
“It just seemed everybody passed the buck,” she added. “It seems the whole system is in a mess.
“There should be more continuity.”
Dr Reid ruled that Mrs McCarron and her son both took their lives. He did not find any failings in their care.
Dr Reid said Damien “had a number of behavioural psychological difficulties throughout his life”.
The oldest of nine children, Mrs McCarron, described as a “brilliant mum”, left school at 15 and married at 17 before going on to have four children.
Paying tribute to her nephew, Ms Clarke said he was “soft and gentle” while his sisters said: “He was really kind and sensitive.”

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