Tragedy of St Albans daughter who never got over death of mother

PUBLISHED: 19:08 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

A SUICIDAL woman from St Albans who stepped in front of a train was mourning the loss of her mother, an inquest heard on Tuesday. Mavis Clarke, aged 53, died in July 6 at a rail crossing on Cottonmill Lane, where she walked in front of an Abbey Flyer trai

A SUICIDAL woman from St Albans who stepped in front of a train was mourning the loss of her mother, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

Mavis Clarke, aged 53, died in July 6 at a rail crossing on Cottonmill Lane, where she walked in front of an Abbey Flyer train travelling from Watford Junction to St Albans.

Mavis, who spent 20 years caring for her mother at their home in Dellfield, took a paracetamol overdose in June four weeks after her mother died and, after the suicide attempt failed, she admitted herself to QEII hospital in Welwyn Garden City.

Dr Raelene Groom, an associate specialist in acute medicine at QEII, treated Mavis and said at the inquest that she was not concerned about her mental health: "She was really eloquent and said that she was embarrassed by her suicide attempt.

"She regretted what she had done and said that she would not do it again."

But mental health liaison nurse at QEII Moses Sithole, who also gave evidence at the inquest, said that he got quite a different impression of Mavis when he met her for the first time in the hospital on July 2, just four days before her death.

"Mavis did not show any remorse to me about taking the overdose. She wanted to die.

"My feeling was that she needed to be assessed by a member of the Crisis Assessment and Treatment (CAT) team before she was discharged, and I made a note of this in her medical notes."

But Ramil Lucido, a junior charge nurse in the medical assessment team at QEII, had not seen Mr Sithole's note and discharged Mavis on July 6 before she had been seen by a member of the CAT team. He said at the inquest that "she wasn't expressing any concerns or suicidal thoughts and was happy to be going home".

Mavis, who had to take a taxi home from the hospital because she had no friends or family to pick her up, committed suicide on the day of her discharge and a witness to the accident - a dog walker who lived near to the rail crossing - said in a written statement that, despite his warning shouts, she showed no hesitation before stepping in front of the train.

Coroner Edward Thomas, who recorded a verdict of suicide, criticised, "the lack of clarity" at the hospital and added: "It is concerning that Mavis did not see someone from the CAT team before she was discharged. We will never know whether that would have made a difference or not."

He added: "Her mother was her life and Mavis was bound to feel lonely and bereaved at that stage. She was a person in a vulnerable position who needed a lot of support.

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