Sister appeals for review into suicide
The sister of a mentally-ill man who killed himself by setting fire to his flat has issued an emotional appeal to reveal the findings of a review into his death.
In an open letter, Gillian Hall demanded Kingston Council releases details of an investigation into mental health strategy for housing officers following the suicide of her brother Kevin.
Mr Hall was facing eviction from his flat in St Andrew’s Road when he caused an explosion, setting fire to his front room, after telling social workers he “no longer had the will to fight”.
The council had insisted no review had been carried out until two weeks ago when it admitted investigating to see if “lessons could be learned”.
Miss Hall decided to pen her letter after the council, which promised her an investigation at an inquest last February, continued to drag its feet over releasing the findings.
Below we print her heartfelt letter to Kingston Council.
“In the 13 months since my brother’s death there remain many questions yet to be answered.
“Most pressing is the manner in which my brother was treated by Kingston Council housing staff and the effect his threatened eviction had on his mental state in the lead-up to his death.
“From conversations with Kevin prior to his death and evidence given at the inquest, it is my contention that staff in the housing team were not properly trained to mediate issues that arose from his mental health problems.
“Equally concerning is the manner in which the council has responded to this tragedy.
“A full year after his death and despite being in the care of two separate departments, housing and mental health, when he committed suicide, until two weeks ago the council insisted no review had been undertaken.
“Last week’s u-turn suggests that either a review has been cobbled together in an attempt to stave off pressure from the local press, or the council has been sitting on the report, failing to make it available to his family, who have been waiting for more than a year for answers.
“It is not my attention to apportion blame, particularly not to the council’s mental health team, who were fantastic in their support of Kevin, but if there are issues to be addressed in relation to my brother’s death it is reasonable these should be made public to ensure this tragedy is not repeated.”
Kingston Council did not respond before this newspaper went to press.
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