A London School of Economics master’s student who had an essay prize named in his honor has taken his own life after mental health staff never saw him in person, an inquest has heard.
Darragh Spelman’s mental health “worsened” during the pandemic and he turned to alcohol to “numb his emotions”.
The 26-year-old had started calling people in the early hours, saying he was the Messiah and repeatedly expressing political views, an inquest into his death was heard.
She had several telephone consultations with the NHS Talking Therapies services, in one of which she was advised to “watch videos of Joe Wicks and keep a journal”, her mother said at the inquest.
On August 27 last year, just two weeks before starting a master’s degree at the London School of Economics, Spelman was found hanged at his parents’ home in Newbury, Berks.
Suicide notes apologizing to her parents were found in a closet where her body was discovered.
His mother, Carmel Owens, said at the inquest that Spelman’s death “sent shock waves through the policy department at the London School of Economics” and that they had since launched the first ever essay prize named after a student.
But she questioned why they had never seen him in person, stating: “Darragh was never actually, ever seen in person. He never once saw him in person.
“The pandemic passes. I know, I worked in a school. I’m just asking why my son wasn’t seen once in person. I just find it amazing.”
Eve Tsapayi, a mental health nurse who has authored a learning review at the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said the first point of contact for Talking Therapies would usually be by phone.
The learning review found Mr Spelman’s death was not due to any fault on the part of the NHS, the inquest heard.
Mr. Spelman had previously earned a first-class honor in his undergraduate degree and had been awarded a scholarship to continue his studies, his mother said.
His family claimed that he had faced “stigma” due to his drinking and that NHS services had “closed the door” on him.
Ms Tsapayi said at the inquest that the trust did not accept that Mr Spelman had been denied aid, but added: “It is very difficult to successfully implement a mental health intervention when someone is under the influence of alcohol.”
Ian Wade KC, Berkshire’s deputy coroner, told the Reading Coroner’s Court that he was pleased that Spelman had committed suicide.
He said of Mr. Spelman: “He was, by any standard, one of the brightest of the bright. He had such a bright future.”