Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Brighton teacher hanged herself at psychiatric hospital
1:50pm Tuesday 14th August 2012 in News
A jury is being asked to consider whether failings at a psychiatric hospital drove a teacher to hang herself there.
Jessica Philpott was found in the garden of Mill View Hospital in Hove after hanging herself. A week-long inquest is being held to establish if the hospital could have kept her safe.
Miss Philpott, 38, was an RE teacher at Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill until her mental illness forced her to leave.
She had trained as a teacher after overcoming emotionally unstable personality disorder, also known as borderline personality disorder, which had affected her from the age of 13.
The condition had led to several suicide attempts and it was only after she spent a whole year in a hospital dedicated to the condition that she took back control of her life.
She became a teacher and was promoted to assistant head of year at Oakmeeds.
The stress of the role was described by a Mill View psychiatrist as the trigger for the return of her urge to harm herself and attempt suicide.
And Ralph McIntyre, a private counsellor she saw in 2010, said: “She was a clever woman. She was promoted outside her level of self-confidence.”
The inquest was told Miss Philpott went to accident and emergency at Royal Sussex County Hospital six times in the six months before she died. She had tried to harm herself by cutting her throat with sharp objects, strangling herself with cords or taking overdoses of medication.
Miss Philpott, 38, of Argyle Villas, Brighton, died at the Royal Sussex in Brighton on February 16.
She had been found hanging in the garden of Mill View’s Caburn Ward three days earlier.
She had been taken to Mill View on February 1 after harming herself while at A&E. On February 13 staff at the secure unit were checking on her every 15 minutes.
But at 11pm she went missing. She was found hanging in the garden.
At an inquest in Brighton yesterday, coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley told members of a jury they were needed because she suspected the “continuance or recurrence” of the circumstances of Miss Philpott's death would be prejudicial to the health and safety of the public.
She said: “Sussex Partnership Trust, by their act or omission, may, in my opinion, have caused or contributed to the death of the deceased.
“This is because Miss Philpott was in their care as a chronic patient who presented with longstanding thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation.”
The inquest continues.