Dolores husband, Steve, developed mental health problems soon after their baby was born. He fell from a bridge in 2005 and died soon afterwards. Dolores felt distraught and very sad. She has found help though a psychologist, and SOBS, and web sites.
Dolores and Steve were married in 2001. They were a happy and devoted couple and in 2005 they were delighted that they were expecting a baby. Dolores had a healthy baby boy, but from that moment Steve seemed to become mentally unwell. When Dolores came home with the baby they argued and Steve became aggressive. He said that he felt that his head was going to explode.
After the baby’s Christening Steve disappeared, and was missing for about five days. He phoned to say that he felt suicidal. He was found and brought home by the police. Steve was aware that he was ill and went with Dolores to see the psychiatric on call team at the hospital. To Dolores amazement Steve was not admitted to hospital but sent home. Steve seemed detached and not himself. The next day he disappeared again and was missing for five weeks.
After five seeks Steve phoned Dolores to say that he wanted to come home. He returned home and seemed quite different. He had changed his appearance and dressed like an 18 year old, even though he was 47 years old. They made an appointment to see the doctor but he ran away again, returning a day later. They then went to see their GP, who phoned the psychiatrist, who was busy. The GP asked them to return in an hour, but when they went to get a coffee Steve ran away again. Dolores found him at the bus station and Steve said he was frightened he would be put away for a long time. They returned to see the GP, who told them that they would have to wait two weeks for a psychiatric assessment. Dolores thinks that the health professionals concerned thought that since Steve had been missing before and had not committed suicide it was unlikely that he would do so now.
Steve rang the resource centre himself and pleaded for an appointment with a psychiatrist but was then told that he would have to wait eight weeks for an emergency appointment.
Steve seemed calmer and Dolores hoped they would get through the emergency. One Tuesday morning Steve said that he was going to chapel, but he never returned. That afternoon the police arrived and told Dolores that Steve had fallen into the river. They took her to the hospital, where she waited for over an hour. Eventually she was told that Steve had died of his injuries. She was taken to see him but was only allowed to stay a few minutes and was not given any of his things. Dolores was distraught and found it hard to accept that she had to leave without any of her husband’s clothes. Later she was devastated to hear that they had all been incinerated.
The funeral was delayed because there was a post-mortem. Dolores wishes that someone had told her that she could have seen Steve at the funeral home. She only saw him as he lay in an open coffin in her mother’s house just before the funeral. The hospital Chaplin took the funeral and he told Dolores to remember that Steve had not been well at the time of his death. This was a comfort to Dolores.
Dolores has been devastated by Steve’s death. She feels a sense of guilt because she feels she should have demanded a better service for Steve. She believes that lack of resources cost Steve his life. She also feels a great sadness, but no anger with Steve. She believes that Steve made the ultimate sacrifice because he did not want her and their son to live with someone with mental health problems.
Dolores sometimes feels isolated by family and friends and thinks that there is still stigma attached to suicide.
Since Steve’s death Dolores has been seeing an NHS psychologist twice a month, which she has found helpful. Recently she has been having a psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Dolores contacted Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) soon after Steve’s death and decided it was not for her. However, last September she went to a meeting and was glad she attended. Dolores has also found the internet helpful, particularly web sites such as WAYand an email group for those widowed by suicide.
Dolores wants to tell her young son exactly what happened to Steve when the time is right. She keeps Steve’s memory alive by visiting his grave and by many other means. For example, Dolores and her son send balloons up into the sky for Steve on special occasions and they talk about him very often. Dolores tells her son that Steve is still around and is guiding him in his life.
The fiscal has not yet decided whether or not a fatal accident inquiry is needed. If there were an inquiry it might show that mental health services were inadequate and that Steve did not receive the care he needed. The decision about the inquiry has been delayed because the doctor who treated Steve at the time of his death has not been found. At the moment the death certificate says Steve died due to A fall from a height and from chest injury.
The only positive thing that has happened as the result of Steve’s death is that Steve’s organs were donated. At least eight people have benefited from Steve’s organs, such as his corneas.
Dolores was interviewed in November 2007.