Widower receives damages and apology from mental health trust after wife’s suicide

News from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news, @peterboroughtel on Twitter
News from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news, @peterboroughtel on Twitter
Have your say

A mental health care provider has apologised and paid damages to a man whose suicidal wife killed herself after he followed its advice.

Sarah Latter (39), of King’s Cliffe, hanged herself on April 19, 2010, after a long battle with depression that included multiple suicide attempts in the month leading to her death.

Her husband, Stephen Latter, had stopped these attempts, but was given advice to give his wife more responsibility by staff at the Cavell Centre in Bretton - which is run by Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

He then left her alone during the afternoon and when he returned a few hours later, she had committed suicide.

Mr Latter believes his wife would still be alive if it were not for failings in her mental health care, and he brought a legal case against the trust.

The trust apologised to him in February and an undisclosed out-of-court settlement was accepted this week.

Mr Latter said: “No apology or compensation will ever right this wrong-doing. The treatment provided by the trust was nothing short of a disgrace.

“Those directly involved, towards whom I feel great anger, should be ashamed of themselves for the part they played in Sarah’s suicide.

“I hope that these people are no longer employed by the trust so that others don’t suffer a similar fate at their hands.”

A trust spokesman would not reveal if the people responsible were still employed.

He did say they have since reviewed their discharge policy, crisis resolution and increased carer awareness training.

He said: “We were deeply saddened by Sarah’s tragic death. We conducted a thorough investigation which has been shared with the family and have made a number of changes.

“We have worked closely with the family since 2010 and will continue to offer them support if they need it.”

Mrs Latter was the Peterborough Evening Telegraph business editor until 2008, when she became a senior PR executive at the BGL Group.

Problems were well documented

Sarah Latter had been treated for depression over a number of years.

Anti-depressant medication was believed to have been successful until her symptoms re-ocurred in February 2010 - two months before her death.

After she did not respond to the anti-depressant prescribed to her, she took a short voluntary stay at the Cavell Centre.

Her medication was changed during her stay in the centre.

Then in March and early April, Mrs Latter made unmerous attempts to take her own life, all of which were prevented due to her husband’s intervention.

The couple was told that Mrs Latter needed to take responsibility for herself by the crisis team at the Edith Cavell Hospital.

Acting on this advice, Mr Latter left her alone for a few hours on the afternoon of April 19, 2010, when she hanged herself.