The estranged husband of a depressed Perth woman who committed suicide after flying overseas and taking a euthanasia drug told a coronial inquest today that despite many warning signs he never believed she would kill herself and leave their children.
Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker is investigating the circumstances leading up to the death of the 39-year-old mother-of-four on May 10, 2008.
Ms Vicker suppressed the names of the woman, known as Ms D, her estranged husband and the children in a bid to protect the children.
Ms D, who suffered severe post-natal depression after the birth of her fourth child, had been an involuntary patient at King Edward Memorial Hospital's mother baby unit for six weeks.
But despite staff uncovering evidence of a suicide plan - including an overdue library slip for an euthanasia book, a passport application and a travel itinerary - and opposition from a psychiatrist, the Mental Health Review Board removed Ms D's involuntary status.
She was placed on a community treatment order under the care of Fremantle Hospital's Alma St Clinic.
She told mental health nurses she was going down south with friends and her estranged husband she was travelling to Los Angeles.
On April 30, 2008 she was found unconscious in her hotel room, with numerous suicide notes. Two of her three sisters rushed to be with her, but she died 10 days later in hospital.
The inquest was told doctors recorded her cause of death as septic shock, hospital acquired pneumonia and respiratory distress.
Ms D's husband said her family felt "let down" by the mental health system and that they did not use their powers to protect his wife. The man said on one occasion a mental health worker told the family to "back off" and leave his wife's care to them.
The man said when his wife told him she was going to LA for a holiday she promised she was not thinking about suicide and he believed her because she behaved normally when saying goodbye to her children, like she was just waving them off to school.
"It didn't seem to me like she would not come back," he said.
He said when he spoke to his wife on the phone days before her overdose he repeatedly asked her if she was planning on killing herself but she told him she was not.
He said when he found out his wife was not in LA, he "freaked out" but did not think suicide was probable because she loved her children too much.
The man said his wife resented her involuntary status, felt like a caged animal and was angry at everyone except him. He said he had no idea he was the only family member to have been told of his wife's suicide plan.
He said his wife had told him that she knew the system and knew what to say.
The inquest was told Ms D, who had suffered bouts of depression for 10 years, had a long-standing aversion to the mental health system because of her experiences working as an occupational therapist at Graylands hospital.
Coronial investigator Sgt Sharon Powell said it appeared the woman was being "superficially bright" in the presence of mental health staff to appear better so she could be discharged.
She said several months before her death Ms D rang an euthanasia organisation and told them she was a cancer patient and wanted to attend a workshop. She was assessed as having a possible mental illness and was told she did not fit the criteria to attend a workshop.
The inquest continues.If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline WA 13 11 14.
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