On 25 June 2018, Mr Reece Lapina-Amarelle took his own life by jumping from Beachy Head. Dean Wilson Solicitors, represented the family at the Inquest, which took place on 25 April 2019 in front of the Senior Coroner for East Sussex, Mr Alan Craze.
The Inquest heard how Reece had a longstanding psychiatric history with a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. He had made a number of suicide attempts previously. The Inquest heard how previously Reece had tried to take his own life by hanging, before the cord broke, and he fell from height breaking his leg and ankle. In addition, he had been intercepted by the Chaplains at Beachy Head on a number of occasions.
On 13 June 2018, Reece was intercepted by Police on the way to Beachy Head. He was assessed by Dr Arun Doraiswamy who found that he needed to be restricted under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. The Care Plan set out would include a long period of sectioning.
Reece was admitted to Bodium Ward, part of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
On 22 June 2018, a Section 117 Discharge Meeting was held during which Reece expressed suicidal thoughts, voices, and intentions to go to Beachy Head once he was discharged. His supportive parents were not made aware of the meeting or provided an opportunity to attend. Once they found out about the planned discharge, they voiced their concerns to the Trust. However, their calls were not returned over the weekend. Reece continued to voice suicidal thoughts but despite this he was discharged on 25 June 2018. Upon leaving the Trust, he refused to accept his Discharge Care Plan or his medication, saying he “Doesn’t need any of these”. The parents’ calls had still not been returned by the Trust and therefore they were not present to collect him, despite saying that they would like to be.
The Inquest heard how Mrs Lapina-Amarelle had received a text message from Reece saying that he loves her. She had then returned the call expecting him to still be in hospital, only to find that he was on his way to Beachy Head. The Police were dispatched and engaged with him at the top of Beachy Head, however, were not able to talk him down, and he eventually stepped off the edge.
An internal investigation by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has found that a clear Discharge Care Plan was not formed as to what support would be available for Reece once he was discharged into the community. They accept that Reece’s parents were not contacted and that they should have been regarding the discharge.
Whilst handling the case Senior Coroner, Mr Alan Craze, commented that “Reece doing what he did was as predictable as night follows day”. He went on to confirm that he would be preparing a Regulation 28 Notice which would go to the Trust, NHS England, and The Secretary of State for Health, asking them to explain what action they would be taking to prevent future deaths. The Corner further commented it was “Difficult to think of a more stark case which should be brought to the attention of the authorities”.
Ben Davey of Dean Wilson Solicitors is acting for the family in a civil action, which is ongoing.