The West

Suicidal man fooled staff

The daughter of a man who had talked constantly about killing himself has criticised hospital staff who were fooled into thinking he was in bed when in fact he was suffocating in a toilet.

Lynn Church was found dead in July 2010 while a patient at the mental health unit at Joondalup hospital. He committed suicide.

At an inquest into his death, his daughter Karen Sibbrett said doctors and nurses took no notice of her warnings that her father was suicidal, and determined.

The hearing was told how Mr Church, 65, used rolled-up towels and a beanie to fashion a crude dummy in his bed, which fooled nurses who were checking on him every 15 minutes.

"(The hospital) was all over the place … and a lot of damage can be done in 15 minutes," Ms Sibbrett said.

She questioned how the nurses assigned to her father could continually mistake a roll of towels for a human body.

Ms Sibbrett said she had concerns about communication at the hospital after telling doctors and nurses her father had talked about wanting to kill himself.

The latest coronial inquiry came after the results of 10 inquests into deaths of patients at Graylands hospital revealed continuing concerns about the ageing facility and the lack of alternatives for the mentally ill.

Issues included overcrowding, lack of privacy, unsuitable facilities, no alternatives for difficult cases and boredom for long-term patients.

WA Association for Mental Health president Alison Xamon said it was vital any resources invested in mental health remained.

"Even though the number of people experiencing mental health issues is increasing compared to other health issues, funding for it remains comparatively less than for other health issues," Ms Xamon said.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The West Australian

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