Review findings published after Hertfordshire girl with anorexia commits suicide

Hertfordshire County Council

Hertfordshire County Council - Credit: Archant

An independent review launched after a teenage girl with an eating disorder committed suicide has found that the organisations involved had acted appropriately.

A serious case review into the death of a 17-year-old girl was published today by Herts County Council’s Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, almost two years after she hung herself.

The girl, who is referred to as ‘Young Person B’ in the report, had been diagnosed with anorexia and was staying at a specialist clinic run by Care UK after being detained under the mental health act in July 2012.

The review revealed that supervision of the teenager had been downgraded in the lead up to her death, after she had stopped self-harming and had appeared to be making progress.

The report concluded: “Because B had self-harmed in the past and had demonstrated suicidal ideation, it cannot be said that the eventual tragic outcome was unpredictable – there was always a possibility that such an event could occur. What was important from the perspective of this review was whether the professional interventions were appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and throughout the time that B and her family were in receipt of services.

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“B was well liked by the professionals who came in contact with her and they were committed in their involvement in trying to help her. This review has not found that there were any occasions when procedures were not followed or legal requirements not addressed which adversely impacted the delivery of care and services to B.”

The report highlights seven areas ‘for learning and development’ which became apparent during the investigation.

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County Hall says these points, including sharing the results of the review with relevant professionals in Hertfordshire working with young people with serious mental ill-health, are already being implemented.

Safeguarding board chairman Phil Picton said: “This tragic case highlights the very real issue of eating disorders and mental ill-health faced by young people. In Hertfordshire, we are always working to improve our partnership work so that we have a co-ordinated approach to help prevent such tragedies from occurring again. Only by working together can we hope to provide a rapid and effective response to child protection. The seven learning points highlighted in the report are already being acted on.”

If you, a friend or relative are experiencing mental health problems, including depression, self-harm or eating disorders, for the first time and need emergency treatment, you can contact Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust on 0300 777 0707 between 8am and 7pm or 01438 843322 between 5pm and 8am.

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