Mum claims doctors missed signs of depression in son who hung himself in hostel room on dream NZ holiday
The mum of a talented 21-year-old who killed himself while on the holiday of a lifetime claims doctors told him they would prescribe him antidepressants when he got back – before he hung himself in a New Zealand hostel.
Alex Drummond-Selby died in the toilet of a hostel in New Zealand on June 19 this year after arriving in the country just four days before for a three week holiday with friends before he was due to start a new job as a trainee chef.
In heartbreaking texts sent to a friend just hours before his death and now released by his family to raise awareness, Alex from Ellesmere, Shropshire, said: ‘I could never go through this torture again’.
And despite a breakdown in March 2018 in which he experienced suicidal thoughts and paramedics were called, when Alex visited his GP about his mental health in June, just six days before the holiday, he was allegedly promised a prescription for mild anti-depressants for when he returned to the UK.
Alex, who had attended the prestigious Thomas Adams School in Shropshire as a boarder, spent two years working as an apprentice at Fabdec, a metal production company after leaving school before securing the promising chef’s job.
Heartbroken mum Clare Drummond-Selby, a teacher and mum-of-two who lives in Chalfont St Peter, Bucks, believes Alex would still be alive if doctors had taken the signs of his depression seriously.
She said: “He had everything to look forward to.
“But in March, when he had his initial breakdown, I asked him what was going on.
“He said he’d been in the pits of despair but was really uncomfortable talking about it. Following that, I told him he needed to go to a doctor.
“Alex hid his real level of depression from us and doctors, but the doctor should have given him the pills before he went away.
“If the visit by paramedics had been on the system than that would have made the doctor declare him unfit to travel.
“And even if he hadn’t told the doctor exactly what was really going on, information from paramedics about his mental health should have been passed on.
“The system failed my son. I’m not blaming individuals here, but I have to question a system that requires the patient to hand in his own notes to the doctor and to advise them of his mental problems.”
Alex was about to begin a new job as a trainee chef before he travelled to New Zealand.
He first started having suicidal thoughts in March 2018, with friends so concerned for his welfare they alerted Alex’s parents and even called paramedics from West Midlands Ambulance Service who visited his workplace and provided Alex a letter detailing the incident to his GP, Cambrian Medical Practice in Oswestry.
While Clare later confronted her son about the incident, she said he hid the true depths of his depression from his friends and family – and the mum-of-two later discovered he never passed the letter onto his GP.
But after his death, she found he had told a friend in a text before he left for New Zealand: ‘I’ve been going through the most difficult period of my life so far where everything has, and is going wrong, and I can’t find a way out of it’.
Alex arrived in New Zealand on June 15, 2018. He took his own life four days later at Bazil’s Hostel in Westport.
Clare said that Alex’s death has had a terrible impact on her, and her family and has also left her £10,000 in debt after having to borrow money for Alex’s funeral costs and to travel to the country to arrange his repatriation.
She said: “I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone else ever. For me, the word I use is broken. Knowing your child has died in this way and wanted to die makes you feel like a complete and utter failure.
“It’s the first thing you wake up thinking about and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep. I’m a teacher and I have to somehow be OK in front of my pupils. In social situations I get terrible anxiety.
“It’s going to go on for the rest of my life, not just for me but also for his grandparents and sister.
“I don’t know what normal is anymore. My heart is broken, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t cry.”
Despite her grief, Clare insisted lessons can be learned from her son’s death.
And she said if she could now see and speak to Alex, she’d be overcome by emotion.
She said: “You always think it’ll happen to someone else.
“Mental health among men is still a taboo subject. It’s a huge, huge problem and it’s being shoved under the carpet.
“I want people to talk and open their eyes. It could be your son or daughter. The signs aren’t obvious so it’s important to talk.
“If I saw Alex now I’d have an absolute fit at him but I’d also give him the biggest hug ever and say we’re going to do this together and never let him out of my sight.
“I’d say ‘if you just give me a chance I’ll do this together’. But he didn’t give me a chance.”
Alex’s inquest has been opened and adjourned at Coroner’s Court.
A spokesman for the Cambrian Medical Practice, Alex’s GP surgery, said: “We cannot discuss the individual case of any patient, whether or not they are registered at our practice.”
A WMAS spokesperson: “We were greatly saddened to hear the news about Alex. Such circumstances are always tragic
“West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to treat Alex on the 5th of June. He was found to be fit and well physically.
“He had the capacity to sign his patient record to say that he did not wish any further treatment, but was advised to see his GP and was given paperwork to that effect which he fully understood.
“Until two years ago, it was not possible to send GPs a copy of the patient’s paperwork.
“However, since the Trust introduced it’s electronic patient record (EPR) system, this is now done automatically where a patient provides sufficient information; though it is up to the individual’s wishes. Unfortunately, on this occasion the crew weren’t able to gain sufficient information for the record to be sent to Alex’s GP.
“When the next upgrade of EPR happens later this year, new technology will make it easier for the Trust to send copies of the record to GPs.
“Our thoughts go out to Alex’s family at what must be a very difficult time.”
An NZ Police spokesperson said: “The matter has been referred to the Coroner.
“While that process is still ongoing Police is unable to comment further.”
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